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Point Blank, John Boorman (1967)

This is a very strange movie which absolutely could not be made today, a French New Wave film made by an Englishman in California. Its narrative head games, its druggy swings from hysteria to Weltschmerz, its boredom with both sex and violence, and above all its conviction that no amount of revolutionary individualism can put a dent in the fortress of capitalist hegemony all work together to provide a devastating critique of the sixties even as “the sixties” was in the deepest throes of its self-regard. Watching this, you’d guess it had been made in 1974, not 1967. It rivals Didion’s White Album in its prescience. There are lots of moments you might use to mark the end of the dream of the sixties: Kent State, My Lai, the assassinations of King and Kennedy in 1968, etc. Add to the list the moment in Point Blank when the girl at the psychedelic dance club goes around behind the screen and discovers the bad guy Lee Marvin’s beaten to a pulp. He’s buried under a pile of film! And the girl’s screams of horror harmonize with the soul singer’s screams of ecstacy. I find it both liberating and terrifying that an aesthetic moment can be that perfectly rendered and this completely forgotten.

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