Movies (#SFWApro)

THE CAMDEN 28 (2007) is a documentary about a group of Catholic anti-Vietnam War activists whose draft-board burglary went south after one of the team—anti-war but anti-lawbreaking too—turned informant and helped the FBI nab them. Much to his surprise, the FBI then reneged on its assurances the thieves would get a slap on the wrist, which led to him turning into a defense star witness. In five years of draft-board attacks, this was the first to result in acquittal, partly because of the informant’s testimony (pointing out how the FBI had provided the group with all its burglary tools) but primarily because the jurors saw it as a referendum on the war. The documentary reveals the reason for trying to jail them was Hoover’s conviction this would not only break the Catholic anti-war movement but that the 28 were also involved with the FBI break-in described in Burglary; two of them were actually part of both robberies but nobody could prove it (the movie itself doesn’t acknowledge this, but the book does). “The terrible question we have to ask is—who went too far?”

PARIS JE T’AIME (2006) is an anthology showing various brief scenes of love or something like it in different Paris neighborhoods. I caught this for the Coen Brothers segment in which Steve Buscemi is a tourist who gets assaulted in a Metro station (very much in their Barton Fink mode of absurdist noir). While there are several other good scenes, such as Wes Craven’s (Emily Mortimer and Rufus Sewell have an argument at Oscar Wilde’s grave), most of them were too insubstantial to hold my interest. “Let’s go back to my hotel room—I promise I’ll make you laugh.”

ROBOCOP (1987) is, of course, the original story of a corporate police force that transforms injured cop Peter Weller into an unstoppable cyborg only to discover he has more humanity left than they expected. While some of the details have dated (South Africa having a white government) this doesn’t feel that far off from the 21st century with its stories of privatized cops, corporate corruption (Miguel Ferrer and Ronny Cox play rival corporate sharks), sleazy TV comedy and psycho gang leader Kurtwood Smith. As Weller’s partner, Nancy Allen is as close to good as she ever got, though it’s a shame Stephanie Zimbalist didn’t get the gig (the renewal of Remington Steele made that impossible, much as it derailed Pierce Brosnan’s original shot at James Bond). “You’re our product—and we can’t very well have our product turning against us.”

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