Today: February 22, 2024

Films You Should See Part Three

So many films, so little time. Fortunately here at FilmJuice we have a pool of talented writers, prepared to spend the vast part of their days hunkered down in darkened cinemas so that you don’t have to.

So many films, so little time. Fortunately here at FilmJuice we have a
pool of talented writers, prepared to spend the vast part of their days
hunkered down in darkened cinemas so that you don’t have to
. Earlier
this year, we decided to put all this generated knowledge to the test and ask
our regular writers to come up with a list of the Films You Should See … But Probably Haven’t. This week, Greg Evans
shares his choices with two films that confound our expectations …

La Haine (1995) (Main Picture)
It’s quite rare for a movie
come along which presents itself as one type of film and ends up as something
completely different. But when it does, something profound happens. Whether
director Mathieu Kassovitz intended
such a thing with La Haine is
unclear but dissecting that film now, is a truly enlightening experience.

Set in the midst of the mid
1990’s Parisian riots, La Haine
follows the fortunes of three young men. Vinz (Vincent Cassel), Said (Said Taghmaoui) and Hubert (Hubert Kounde) come from very
different backgrounds, but are united by the injustices they endure.

The night before the events
in the film, sees a young man brutally beaten to near death by the local police
force – and act for which Vinz, in particular, seeks vengeance. The ghetto in
which the men live has been singled out as a place of crime and villainy. At
least that’s what the media would have you believe. Look closer and what’s
revealed are real people, with real potential: musicians, artists, athletes,
scholars and politicians. Yet the restrictions and sanctions placed on them
don’t allow their talents to be fully explored – and it’s frustration that
causes those in the ghetto to lash out so violently.

La Haine isn’t quick to
condemn anyone though. In fact the film openly portrays nearly every element of
society as potentially good. It’s only when the three young men leave their
homes and venture into the thriving metropolis of Paris that La Haine begins to
show things as truly corrupt or dangerous. Snobbish arty types, suicidal drug
deals, racist skinheads and vile police officers are all shown as being far
more threatening than anything that exists within their community.

Seeing the ever escalating
horrors of inner city life, the three youths become much more subdued and, to a
point, philosophical. They question their own moral existence and personal
futures. So, what started out as a gritty revenge drama, gradually morphs into
an intelligent exploration of ‘ghetto-ised’ teenage life. The journey that La
Haine takes you on with these three men is shocking, funny, moving and at times
beautiful. Although nearly 20 years old, La Haine has lost none of its bite and
remains uniquely relevant.

Maniac Cop (1988)
That simmering sensation of
fear that comes from being pulled over by the police is a strange thing. You know that you’re
innocent but somewhere, in the back of your mind, you have the sense that you
could be in immense trouble. It’s a ridiculous feeling but it’s commonplace
when confronted by a uniformed member of the establishment. It’s this sense of
innocent dread that Maniac Cop plays
on. Controversial in its premise, Maniac Cop was a rare treat in the latter
days of the slasher genre.

The film starts out with a
series of extravagant murders in New
York
, committed by an unknown
police officer. Eventually Bruce
Campbell’s
Jack Forrest is accused of the murders and must step-up to solve
the mystery behind the ‘Maniac Cop’. It’s a simple enough premise but it’s what
the filmmaker’s do with this premise that raises Cop far above the mundane.

Once the murders begin, the
media are quick to blame the most likely culprits (in this case the police).
Much like La Haine, the media here is portrayed as narrow-minded and happy to
point the finger with little or no evidence. These manufactured stories create
a sense of paranoia and anxiety amongst the public and at the height of the
Maniac Cop hysteria comes the film’s most controversial scene.

A woman’s car breaks down
and, while stranded, she sees a cop car pull up in her rear view mirror.
Expecting it to be the Maniac Cop she pulls a gun on the lawman and kills him.
It’s then revealed that the victim is actually an honest police officer just
trying to help. It’s a shocking and corrupt scene, but masterfully executed.

As the film draws to a
conclusion, it does occasionally descend into the standard ‘80s action/horror
movie formula, but this doesn’t detract from the overall drama. Without
revealing too much, the Maniac Cop himself is actually quite a tragic figure.
It’s rare for films to show a police officer like this. Bad Lieutenant, Rampart, French Connection and Lakeview Terrace have also showed police as troubled individuals
but not to the murderous extent of the Maniac Cop, who’s actions seem to be
fuelled by a warped sense of vigilantism. The themes explored in Maniac Cop are
so engaging that the real crime is that, to this day, the film is still
perceived as a low-brow, slasher B-movie. Superior to many of the other horror
films around at the time, Maniac Cop is far more arresting than its simplistic
title would suggest.

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Films You Should See Part Two

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