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Medium Cool

4.6 out of 5 stars 32 customer reviews

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(Dec 11, 2001)
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Editorial Reviews

OOP 2001 Paramount DVD release.

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Robert Forster, Verna Bloom, Peter Bonerz, Marianna Hill, Harold Blankenship
  • Directors: Haskell Wexler
  • Writers: Haskell Wexler
  • Producers: Haskell Wexler, Jerrold Wexler, Jonathan Haze, Michael Philip Butler, Steven North
  • Format: Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
  • Studio: Paramount
  • DVD Release Date: December 11, 2001
  • Run Time: 111 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005QTAT
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #105,580 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Medium Cool" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jeffrey Ellis on December 17, 2001
Format: DVD
Released in 1969 by overshadowed by Easy Rider (which despite being a bit more flashy in technique is actually a far more conventional film), Medium Cool is one of the few "counterculture" films of the '60s to actually remain relavent. The first film to be directed by famed cameraman Haskell Wexler, Medium Cool is the story of 1968, a panoramic view of a near revolution. Cleverly, Wexler tells his story through two outsiders -- a detached newsman (Robert Forster) and the country widow that he romances (well played by Verna Bloom who should have become a star as a result of her sweetly realistic and appealing performance). Though the film is clearly on the side of the counterculture, the use of these two outsiders allows Medium Cool to retain an objectivity that seems to be missing from most other films of the period. Instead of simply worshipping the trends of the time, Wexler was actually at the apocalyptic events seen in the film. When Forster and Bloom find themselves lost in the chaotic rioting of that year's Democratic convention, the scenes are riveting because they were actually filmed during the actual riots. This is the rare protest film where, instead of seeing wealthy Hollywoodites playing their idealized versions of the times, you are actually seeing the events as they unfold. For someone like myself who was born on the tail end of the Viet Nam War, seeing that footage and realizing how close to collapse society actually was in 1968 is truly an eye opening experience.
Much of the film, of course, is improvised. Improv is often a frightening word when it comes to film making. It seems to be a talent that a lot more people believe they have than actually do.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Hollywood just didn't get it in the Sixties and the best they could do was turn out stuff like "Wild in the Streets." But there were two films that did capture what was going on in those days and 'Medium Cool' was one of them. The other was 'Easy Rider,' and both of them were made in spite of Hollywood and not with the help of Hollywood. One picture dealt with the political upheaval in the streets and the other dealt with the cultural revolution.
I saw 'Medium Cool' the week it opened and I probably wasn't the only one who considered it a revolution in film making and figured it would be the first of many such films that tied documentary and narrative film together, but sadly there were no more 'Medium Cool's' to follow, or no more 'Easy Rider's' either.
The Amazon review is totally uninformed in describing what happened in Chicago. The only 'riot' that happened were the police riots that repeatedly attacked the protesters and anyone else who happened to be in their way. And very few of us considered ourselves to be hippies by that time. I know because I was there and that's me on the cover of the DVD carrying a red flag. Interestingly Haskell -- who I became friends with many years later -- is still at it. I was marching down Hollywood Boulevard in an antiwar protest at the beginning of the Iraq war and looked up just in time to see Haskell in the crowd pointing his DVD camera at me. There was no tear gas this time, no rioting cops, and no machine guns set up on the streets. I wasn't carrying a red flag and my hair has long since turned to gray, but some some basic things never change.
This picture tells it like it was as only the world's greatest cinematographer could have done it.
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Format: DVD
"Medium Cool" is one of those magnificent wonders that creeps up on the film world, either in passing conversation or in revivals. But it still has yet to receive it's pure due, in spite of it being made over 30 years ago.
It's an accidental masterpiece. Director Haskell Wexler's original intentions were to (via filmic terms) view the various sides of the media as relating to Marshall McLuhan's famous "hot medium/cool medium" essay. In this case, he corraled a bunch of actors (some of whom were associated with the Chicago improvisational scene), gave a loose story line and filmed it around the unfolding events at the 1968 Chicago Democratic Convention (with a few accidental stops in Los Angeles & Washington). Wexler attempted to put the actors into the roles of television men & everyday people and, basically, leave them with their own improvisational devices. Tus, this is where "Medium Cool" develops.
Maybe upon first viewing it in 1969, the performances didn't hold up, but more than thrity years later, everyone involved (even right down to the smallest part) has to be commended. This film is more than an experiment, or even a time capsule, but a true countercultural event. This is a film that not only teaches a thing or two about the times (1968), but also serves as a great study on media and it's truths & manipulations. It's also a great acting lesson of what improvisational acting truly should be...risk-taking with a high degree of failure (and NOT the cutesy-poo clever laugh inducing theatre that it's been reduced to...more later). You want a true example of play actors facing a REAL reality situation? Well, look no further...
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