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The Exiles

The Exiles

Director:Kent Mackenzie
Release Date:1961

By Bret McCabe | Posted 1/14/2009

The Milestone Film and Video restoration and debut release of Kent MacKenzie's invaluable 1961 movie is one of those time capsules from another era that changes the way you see and consider a place. In this case, it's an early 1960s Los Angeles, where MacKenzie's luscious black-and-white 35-mm photography follows a loose group of under-employed, young Native Americans over the course of a single day into night and dawn. Only the pregnant Yvonne (Yvonne Williams) and her husband Homer (Homer Nish) receive an interior life via voice-over narration, but Exiles offers them a mere slice of a larger community of downtrodden Native Americans living in an urban L.A. that doesn't really exist anymore. The men drink and smoke and gamble, the women quietly move about town window shopping for things they can't afford, and throughout The Exiles looks and moves like such early American underground entries as John Cassavetes' Shadows and Shirley Clarke's The Connection, capturing a vision of the country both very similar and radically different from Robert Frank's contemporaneous The Americans. Tragic and elegiac essential filmmaking.

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