Thursday, October 7, 2010


(Harvey Hart, 1976)
As with his previous commentaries on buggery and religion, Hart's take on the NRA is well-nigh useless as documentary - instead, he's once again made some kind of weird horror movie, one that dares to push back against the collective psyche instead of pandering to it. After all, the public was hardly clamoring for a film that identified sport hunting with militarism with tribalism with fascism, and yet here it is, centered tellingly on Cliff Robertson's wealthy bastard of a furniture salesman instead of some hapless redneck. Glowering and heartless, Robertson has enough status to rally the troops for his nonsensical mission of supremacy, recruiting everyone from his black security guard to some loudmouth kid to his veteran buddies, including Ernest Borgnine as the alarmingly impotent and conflicted voice of conscience. Hart paints a picture of a 'community' far too bleak and repressed to reward the loyalty and unity it demands, a community wholly dedicated to single-minded paranoia and hatred - the kind of community, in short, that makes modern warfare possible. Hart's nightmare vision is so single-minded that he invests little in such niceties as credibility or even narrative - through the seemingly endless chatter, you can see the climax's wildly hyperbolic carnage coming a mile away. Of course, you could say the same thing about, for instance, Afghanistan. Which is what makes this movie's dragginess haunting and its excesses resonant.

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