Racism in Modern Film

My next blog will be on The Birth of a Nation. I should have reviewed this film earlier but I have not watched the film in quite some time. When it is fresh in my mind, I will write a lengthy article about the classic D.W. Griffith film.

Thinking about this film got me thinking about how other films treat racism. From what I have seen, there is a tendency for the films to be moralizing to a point that is makes me want to barf.

Take American History X for example. The acting is superb (who knew Edward Norton could play such an dark role so well), the story and dialogue are very well written, and there is just this ominous and intense mood that surrounds the film.

Or, at least for the first half of the film it is this way.

In the second half of the film, one of the lead characters changes his views after he makes one black friend. This occurs after a first half of film that is so utterly complex in its dealing with racism that it actually feels that the reformed racist was smarter as a racist.

The film ends with a disclaimer that essentially says that being angry and hateful is just a waste of time. There is no elaboration. This is the end.

In a sense, The Birth of a Nation is refreshing as it is so old and racist that it does care to pander to accepting and tolerant modern views. It did pander to racist views back in 1915 but its completely taboo views serve well for modern viewers as they challenge the viewer to look at film from a filmmaking standpoint and not a just a social one.

Man Bites Dog

Man Bites Dog is a disgusting film. Please, do not take this as a knock against the movie. It is not. Rather, the sick nature of this film is what makes it so brilliant.

Let me backtrack to the plot for a second. The plot to this film is simple. The film follows a serial killer and a film crew as they document his daily routine. He goes from house to house, murdering (mainly) elderly people and stealing their money. Unlike most movies with serial killers as the subjects, Man Bites Dog does not have a cliched story that involves a disturbed psychopath who kills people because he had a difficult life. The lead character in this film is a funny, sophisticated and charismatic man. However, unlike someone like Hannibal Lecter, Ben is not some strange creep who takes joy in manipulating his victims. Ben is a heartless man who does not care for human life. That is it.

It is this straightforward, careless attitude of the killer that makes the film so funny. He makes so many bumbling mistakes that I could not help but laugh out loud. He drops bodies out of buildings in broad daylight, he mocks waiters who test his patience and then, vomits all over the restaurant. Ben is a complete buffoon and the stark contrast of quick cutting, bloody murder scenes and the unfiltered, ridiculous comments and actions of Ben that create a rift between comedy and savagery.

It is this rift that makes this film so much different from other black comedies that I’ve seen. In your typical black comedy, the viewer can expect to laugh at the terrible things that happen throughout the film. Deaths often occur in funny ways to unlikeable characters. This is not the case in Man Bites Dog. Terrible things happen to innocent people throughout this film. These awful things are often juxtaposed with sly remarks from Ben, who loves to mock his victims.

The vicious style of the murder scenes, contrasting with the gallows humour of Ben, creates a jarring experience that will disgust and entertain you. For this reason, I advise that anyone who wants to watch a funny yet challenging movie should take a look at Man Bites Dog. 

Please click the link below to view the trailer.

Taxi Driver- DeNiro Dials It in

Taxi Driver is one of the few undeniable classics of modern American cinema. Martin Scorsese’s masterpiece is a daring film which perfectly portrays the spirit of isolation. The film follows Travis Bickle, a socially awkward cab driver who is out of touch with the world he lives in. He has no friends or family and the few people he knows are not very close. As the film develops, Travis’ loneliness eats away at his sanity and causes him to eventually go down a violent path to solve his problems.

The films lasting impact is due largely to the excellent performance turned in by Robert DeNiro. His portrayal of Travis Bickle is truly one of his best at it showcases his excellent range in a single role. DeNiro’s character goes from being a shy and unintentionally creepy man to an obsessed, moralistic killer by the end of the film. Furthermore, his ability to improvise is very apparent with this film. The classic “You talking’ to me” monologue is one of the  best excerpts of acting in film history and convinces the viewer that the transformation from quiet loner to psychopathic murderer is nearly complete.

Hello Fellow Film Fans

Hello,

The following blog will focus on reviewing some of the most controversial films ever made. The purpose of this blog is to delve into a wide variety of films and provide a modern critique for films that are particularly infamous. I will discuss the pros and cons that such films have. I feel that such films should be discussed as they are often ignored and have made for some of the most powerful films that I have ever seen. These films tend to challenge viewers in ways that your average Hollywood blockbuster does not.

Brent