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The Exiles [Import]

Yvonne Williams , Homer Nish , Kent MacKenzie    NR (Not Rated)   DVD

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Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Exiles Nov. 9 2009
By Carlos E. Velasquez - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
"The Exiles" is another cinematic gem rescued from oblivion by the good folks at Milestone Film and Video. Directed by the late Kent Mackenzie, not long after he graduated from the University of Southern California, the film give us a rare glance at life of Native Americans in the big city, providing us with a unique and very important document of our times.

The movie adequately opens with numerous beautiful, historical photos - mostly portraits of Native Americans throughout time --, and right away we are told that "white men sent Indians to reservations, but some went to the city," and we immediately meet one of the several characters that we'll see in the next 72 minutes. We follow them in what turns out to be great part of a day in their lives, beginning when pregnant Yvonne arrives home one afternoon, where she finds several mostly unemployed men, bored as they could possible be, wasting time in nonsense. From then on, we follow them into their night rituals. The women mostly stay home or go to the movies; the men, however, have or apparently have all the fun. They go gambling, partying, drinking, getting high, and skirt-chasing. They do this until the sun rises, and repeat this destructive cycle every day.

"The Exiles" is an unpretentious, sincere film, done with the heart, and the director apparently allowed the actors - mostly Native Americans -- to be themselves and play their culture. This exceptional movie depicts a well-known, sad part of our society, with defeated human beings, with defeated minds, as the main characters. It doesn't matter where the plot takes place - the city or the reservation --, the stories are always the same. This is especially revealed in the long scene in which the boys go to party on a hill in the city Los Angeles known as Hill X, in which they drink and play the drums all night long, as they did in their reservations. This is their way to reminisce about their culture, their parents, their childhood, and their land.

"The Exiles" also captures a part of Los Angeles that is gone, because the whole film takes place in that city, mostly in a place known as Bunker Hill. We get to see how the neighborhood was during the early sixties, including the famous Angel's Flight, which was located in that area. Angels' Flight was out of business for a while, but it was recently rebuilt as a tourist attraction. Sadly, the neighborhood didn't have the same luck: it was demolished to make way to corporate buildings, which constitute the current landscape of downtown Los Angeles. This story is identical to the fate that a place known as Chavez Ravine had. It was a happy site, mostly populated by Mexican immigrants, which was demolished to build Dodger Stadium -- in short, the history of brown people. In addition, there are scenes filmed in Grand Central Market, in Downtown Los Angeles, a place which, for some reason, has been able to survive and thrive all these years. For us, who live in this weird and controversial city, it is important to see all this visual historical records.

In addition of the film, this magnificent two-disc DVD set is loaded with historical extras, featuring several shorts by Kent Mackenzie, including "A Skill for Molina", "Story of a Rodeo Cowboy", and "Ivan and his Father." It also includes the documentary "Bunker Hill: A tale of Urban Renewal" by Greg Kimble, and "White Fawn's Devotion: the First Native American Film. Furthermore, this remarkable DVD set also features audio bonuses, like "The Leonard Lopate Show," with Sherman Alexie and Sean Axmaker, as well as interviews with these two personalities. Finally, there is also a DVD-ROM, with downloadable material, including "The Exiles" scripts (including the final version), publicity material, production history on "Bunker Hill," "The Making of The Exiles" (MacKenzie's Master Thesis), and much more. (USA, 1961, B&W and color, 72 min with additional material).

Reviewed on November 9, 2009 by Eric Gonzalez from [...].
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The greatest "night" film ever? Nov. 23 2009
By Jobla - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Whether you consider this film to be docudrama or documentary (a case could be made for either), THE EXILES is one of the greatest "night" films ever made. If you asked Mr. Peabody to fire up the wayback machine and transport you to Los Angeles in 1958 for a night on the town (when most of the film's action was actually filmed), this is what you might see. In other words, the production provides a brilliant time capsule of a specific time and place. The nighttime cinematography is breathtaking, rivaling that of the best film noir efforts. The ambience is punctuated by many forgotten vintage rock/blues/doo-wop songs playing constantly in the background as the characters move from place to place. Some of that music is instrumental tracks performed by the Revels.

The period is further brought to life via some of the accompanying featurettes. There are documentary studies of Bunker Hill and Angels Flight (the funicular railway) that reveal the grandeur that had fallen into decay by 1958. There are also some native American featurettes.

The two-disc set has something for everyone, spanning elements of history, architecture, sociology, and psychology. The film is no musty lecture, but a living document that brings the past back to life. The DVD's transfer and supplemental features are superb.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a night in LA . . . May 26 2010
By Ronald Scheer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
Excellent docudrama about young Native Americans living in central Los Angeles circa 1960. The film vividly captures a time and place as it follows a half dozen characters during a night of bar hopping, cruising around town, and gathering on a hilltop overlooking the city for drumming and singing. Other reviewers have noted the down-beat tone of the film, but it is also full of comic moments and immense energy, which is reflected in the terrific rock-and-roll soundtrack (all original music for the film).

Beautifully photographed in black and white with striking night-time street scenes, the original Angels Flight funicular, the old houses on Bunker Hill and the tunnel under it. Mackenzie's camera captures wonderful unscripted details in the crowded bar scenes, and the performances of his nonprofessional cast seem natural and spontaneous. Originally made as a student film at USC, "The Exiles" has stood up remarkably well for its 50 years and rewards viewers with a multi-layered portrayal of lives lived in a moment of history. Two-disc set with extensive supporting materials.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars EXCELLENT Feb. 10 2014
By G - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
As Sherman Alexie stated in the commentary, the director had to have known about and been very close to Indins to tell this story the way he did. An incredible and unbiased look into the lives of a handful of natives living off the rez. Beautifully shot too. Highly recommended.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Valuable document of a lost time, place, and people June 29 2013
By M. Berry - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Few remember the history of Bunker Hill or the power of real, raw cinema verite. This film has both--a group of friends, Native Americans exiled to the poverty of Bunker Hill in Los Angeles, during a night when each of them is out searching.

If you've had enough of screenplay-guru-influenced, pre-digested American film, buy or rent this movie today!

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