‘You be the Critic’ presents “Medium Cool”

The movie "Medium Cool" is presented in the 'You be the Critic' series at the Oak Park Arms retirement community. Oak Park Arms presents its popular series “You Be the Critic” at 3:30 p.m. Friday, March 8, at the Oak Park Arms, 408 S. Oak Park Ave. The film “Medium Cool” will be viewed and reviewed with radio announcer Dan Kane.

Written and directed by Haskell Wexler, this 1969 film stars Robert Forster, Verna Bloom, Peter Bonerz, Marianna Hill and Harold Blakenship. The film centers around a television news cameraman, John Cassellis (Forster), during a time of social and political upheaval in America.

For years Cassellis enjoyed filming gruesome and violent events with detachment and a blasé attitude, but when he discovers his tapes are being used by the FBI to find suspects of violence and racial tensions, he realizes the power of his camera. He protests to his network and gets fired.

Subsequently Cassellis attends the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Illinois where he meets and grows fond of the widow of a Vietnam veteran, Eileen, and her son Harold. When Harold goes missing during the convention, Cassellis’ help in the search for Eileen’s son takes him even deeper into the emotional pulls of human nature.

At one point Eileen is desperately searching through the rioting crowds and Cassellis is filming the convention, merging the fictional story and real-life brutality onscreen.

The film is best known for presenting the audience with powerful imagery through its documentary-style filmmaking techniques and combination of fictional and non-fictional content. Because Wexler funded the film partly out of his own resources, he had free reign during the film’s production.

Today “Medium Cool” is a vital late-‘60s film for its incisive narrative, formal dissection of the “truth” of visual politics and its awareness of the blurred lines of depicted violence received as entertainment, especially during a times of political upheaval.

It was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress in 2003.

The Oak Park Arms is a rental retirement community which provides independent and assisted living apartments and a full schedule of activities and services. Furnished apartments are also available for a short-term stay – a weekend, a week, a month or longer.

The event is free and open to the public. Call Jill Wagner at 708-386-4040.


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