Friday, May 24th, 2013

Cinema Verite

Almost 40 years ago before our TV screens were over-run with excessive trivial drivel that, without a single hint of irony, is called Reality TV, there were The Louds, ‘An American Family’.  Documentary filmmaker Craig Gilbert had seduced this seemingly near perfect nuclear family into allowing his film crew to set up cameras all around their home and just letting them film them as they get on with their normal lives. Something quite un-precedented back in 1973, that would eventually totally revolutionize television. What none of them knew then was that the marriage would disintegrate in front of them culminating with the wife telling her philandering husband to leave live in front of the whole nation.
The whole concept was totally daring esp. as the cameras followed Pat, the wife/mother, to NY where her son Lance literally became the first gay man to ever come out on television. (The scene is hilarious as Lance takes his mother to a Drag Club to point out the ‘girl’ who had proposed marriage to him and who is none other than one of Andy Warhol’s stars, Candy Darling. ‘She’s a MAN!’ says a horrified Pat. “I haven’t accepted ANYTHING’ replied Lance.
The fact that the background story behind the TV Series was so fascinating makes this so very watchable … (can you imagine decades later anyone ever wanting to be interested in the making of mindless programs like ‘Keeping Up With The Kardashians’.)  And this star-studded cast included the remarkable Diane Lane in yet another outstanding (award-winning?) performance as Pat who she portrayed as a feisty, frustrated, very astute woman with a very sharp sense of humor. Tim Robbins played Bill the husband with the wandering eyes and hands, James Gandolfini was Craig Gilbert, and Thomas Dekker was Lance, a part that deserved more screen time considering the significance of his role.
In those days evidently some of the film-makers fought hard to maintain their high-minded principles when they believed that the family deserved privacy, particularly when the going got rough.  Nowadays it seems like there are no morals or limits to what happens to a family and ends up on our screens in the name of entertainment.
Directed by Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini whose previous credits include the story of Harvey Pekar’s American Splendor, this movie was made for HBO TV but is now available on DVD.  Worth watching if nothing else than to remind you how good TV once was.

Posted by queerguru  at  16:45

Genres:  drama

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