The fourth Tuesday of every month Nicole Rafter, author of Shots in the Mirror: Crime Films and Society, contributes a column on crime films to the Oxford University Press blog. In her latest column she takes on my favorite whipping boy from one of my favorite directors, this summer’s Miami Vice:
It may be that crime films in general are running out of gas today after the revival and boom of the late 20th-century that began in 1967 with the release of Bonnie and Clyde and went into high gear in 1971, when Dirty Harry introduced the new genre of cop action. More likely, we are seeing the specific genre of cop-action winding down its cycle. Or so Miami Vice suggests. This film has nothing new to say about buddy cops, policing, the hunt for criminals, or the nature of crime. It illustrates nothing more clearly than cop-action’s loss of energy since the golden days of the Die Hards and Lethal Weapons.
Chabrol enjoys a great love-hate relationship with his subject matter: he loathes his bourgeoisie as much as he laughs at them and, sometimes, may be with them; they fascinate, irritate, disgust, entertain him and, through him, us.
For nearly half a century, Chabrol and bourgeoisie have been an odd couple of partners in success; their conflict is among the great rivalries in French filmmaking: a Connors-McEnroe feud extended over the length of five tennis careers.
Chabrol’s French provincial bourgeois are both a sociological fact and a filmmaker’s fantasy, if not a personal obsession: nearly, but never, too good -i.e. bad, mean, evil, conniving, greedy, criminal…- to be true.
Chabrol’s movies should be compulsory screening material for all sociology, home and fashion design students alike. Any admirer of French art de vivre should rush to watch them.
Finally, the filmmaker St. Clair Bourne has been blogging for a little while now. Here, he writes about his intent to make a film about the Black Panthers and the concerns he has about realizing the project.:
Even though the Black Panther Party existed approximately 40 years ago, there is a legacy of resistance to injustice but also jailed Panther political prisoners, Panthers in exile and renewed government pursuit of unsolved political “crimes.” For example, there is the recent conviction in Atlanta of Kamaau Sidiki, formerly Freddie Hilton, of murdering an Atlanta policeman back in 1971, the continued imprisonment of former Black Panthers such as Eddie Conway for over thirty years in Maryland on charges of murder, the persecution of Mumia Abu-Jamal because of his former Black Panther Party membership, and others.
In addition, the persecution also continues against former BPP allies, with renewed efforts to prosecute former American Indian Movement (AIM) members and former Weather Underground members. Because of the political nature of this project and the current political climate in the US, there may be attempts to prevent this production from coming to fruition. I will keep you informed about our progress and hopefully this constant visibility will protect this production from possible interference.