Saturday, November 4, 2017

Suburbicon [2017]

MPAA (R)  CNS/USCCB (L) (1 1/2 Stars)  AVClub (C)  Fr. Dennis (3 1/2 Stars)

IMDb listing
CNS/USCCB (J. Mulderig) review
Los Angeles Times (J. Chang) review (B. Tallerico) review
AVClub (A.A. Dowd) review

Atlantic (D. Sims) interview w. George Clooney
Hollywood Reporter (S. Galloway) interview w. Matt Damon

Suburbicon [2017] (directed and screenplay cowritten by George Clooney along with Joel and Ethan Coen and Grant Heslov)  is a searingly dark in our day seemingly absurdist comedy (evoking Fellini's absurdist though not nearly as dark (just really, really wierd) comedy Satiricon [1969]) about a random all-white post WW II / 1950s era suburb into which a nice random African American family tries to move-in.

Yet, as absurdist a comedy as it may seem, the story is inspired by all-too-well known post WW II / 1950s era incidents in which new white homeowners feeling, somehow entitled to do so, often resorted to violence (truly by "any means necessary") to keep African American families and those of other racial minorities out of their newly constructed neighborhoods.  This was the case even though these new white homeowners were able to buy their homes based on GI Bill FHA loans that veterans of color were _nominally_ eligible for as well.

Look, Dear Readers, my ancestry is Czech and in 1950-60s Chicago, the heavily Czech American populated suburbs of  Cicero and Berwyn were _infamous_ for keeping African American families from moving-in through violence.  My dad, emigrating to the U.S. (and the Chicago area) in the 1950s as a chemist did not need to live in Cicero / Berwyn.  So I grew up in _even more_ lily-white suburbs where simple economics kept their neighborhoods largely "racially pure," but I know (and to my own shame) _exactly_ what this film is about.

And no matter what else could be said about this 1950s-60s era injustice (and MUCH could be said -- including how this kind of post-WW II housing discrimination has kept African Americans economically down to this day) WHAT IS ABSOLUTELY CLEAR IS THAT THIS KIND OF VIOLENCE AGAINST BLACKS / OTHER MINORITIES NEED NOT EVER HAPPEN AGAIN ... unless ... WE LET IT.

So then ... the current film is about two families, neighbors, in an "idyllic" fictionalized 1950s-era suburb.  One of the families, the Mayers was black (mom, dad and 10 year old son played by Karimah Westbrook, Leith M. Burke and Tony Espinosa) and the other was white, headed by an accountant of some kind, named Gardner (played by Matt Damon), his wife (played by Julianne Moore), her sister (also played by Julianne Moore) and ten year old son (played by Noah Jupe).

Actually / ironically the two families though _actual neighbors_ seemed to get along _quite well_, BUT ... that was perhaps because Gardner's family was TOO BUSY DEALING WITH ITS TRULY SORDID DEMONS to be bothered with their new neighbors being of another perceived "lower" race.

Yet even as the sordid "family drama" involving (1) Mob debts, (2) Adultery and even possibly (3) Incest plays out _quietly_ within the "confines" of the Gardner household, THE ENTIRE NEIGHBORHOOD becomes increasingly (and increasingly violently) agitated _by the mere presence_ of the _quiet_ African American Mayer family in their midst.

What the heck is going on?  Yes, what the heck is going on?  And do we HONESTLY want to go back to this kind of mentality?

Yes, this is an UGLY film, but intentionally so.  And I COMPLETELY UNDERSTAND George Clooney / Matt Damon, et al for wanting to make it.

Again, do we really want to go back to _this_?

<< NOTE - Do you like what you've been reading here?  If you do then consider giving a small donation to this Blog (sugg. $6 _non-recurring_) _every so often_ to continue/further its operation.  To donate just CLICK HERE.  Thank you! :-) >>

No comments:

Post a Comment