Exiles 2 Days only!

The Exiles out of exile

Hailed as a `masterpiece of indie cinema’ The Exiles is finally released into theatres.
The exiles in The Exiles are a group of American Indians who have left their reserves in the Southwestern United States and moved to Los Angeles. It is the late 1950s: L.A., at least the Bunker Hill neighbourhood where The Exiles is set, is a tumbledown glory, a steep incline where a cable car runs up beside the underpass below a highway. The movie follows three people – Yvonne (Yvonne Williams), pregnant and hopeless (“he might change when he sees the baby”); Homer (Homer Nish), her husband, thickset and brooding (“I want to have some sort of excitement – get in a fight or something”) and Tommy (Tommy Reynolds), who staggers through the crowded bars, looking for an unwatched purse or wallet (“You start drinking and the next thing you know, Monday rolls by, then Tuesday . . .”)

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The movie was made over three years and finished in 1961 by a young filmmaker named Kent Mackenzie, who died in 1980. He shot it with a group of cinematographers – Eric Daarstad, Robert Kaufman and John Morill – with little money but in a sparkling, rich black and white that is a vibrantly noir document of old Los Angeles. The film has been beautifully restored, although the soundtrack is slightly out of sync: the words come from interviews with the participants, and it’s unclear whether The Exiles is fiction or documentary or both.

Either way, the point is made clear in the opening sequence, a series of Edward S. Curtis photographs of Indians: warrior faces with the long stares of serious men. A narrator then tells us that we’re about to see 12 hours in the lives of a group of Indians of the present day, people who have left their reservations and who are typical of many in Los Angeles.

Their long night is dreary, riveting and haunting. Yvonne goes to the movies; Homer goes out drinking, then to a poker game; Tommy hits the bars, picks up some girls, listens to a jukebox. At the end of the night, all the men gather on “Hill X” high above the city for an informal powwow: where they are, in fact, is Chavez Ravine, shortly to be redeveloped into the new home of the Los Angeles Dodgers. They dance, they fight, they drink, they go home, speeding through the city’s tunnels in an ancient convertible.

Part of the fascination in The Exiles is historical: the rockabilly soundtrack, the pulse of the streets, even the signs in the windows (a glass of Scotch is 55 cents; a bottle of kosher wine is 59 cents, “coffee and a do- nut” is a dime.) But beneath it lies a story about displaced people: there isn’t much nobility in these faces or in these lives. “I’d rather live in that time than the time now,” someone says, looking back.

The Exiles was not released when it was made: it is only now hitting theatres and being hailed as a masterpiece of independent cinema. It is also a sad picture that tells us – in the blank stares, the alcoholic bonhomie, the crowded and

CAPSULE REVIEW – The Exiles: A restored, black-and-white independent film, shot in Los Angeles, about the lives of American Indians in a rundown neighbourhood. Beautifully filmed, it is a low-budget masterpiece, a riveting glimpse into dreary lives that pulses with loss and alcohol. Director Kent Mackenzie, who died in 1980, has a an eye for the undercurrents of hopelessness. Four stars out of five. – Jay Stone

teleskopy astronomiczne

Very nice blog, your article is interesting, i have bookmarked it for future referrence

Reply · September 22, 2018

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