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March 12th, 2014 AP KRYZA | Movie Reviews & Stories
 

AP Film Studies: Come Out To Play

The Warriors imagines street gangs as a rainbow United Nations.

movies_warriors_4019VESTED INTEREST: The gangsters of Coney Island. - Image courtesy of Paramount Pictures
If The Warriors were remade today (please don’t let Michael Bay read this), it’s very likely it would become a “gritty” look at gang life in America, punctuated by ham-fisted commentary about racism and class warfare. 

ILLUSTRATION: Hawk Krall
That’s why it’s fascinating to look back at Walter Hill’s 1979 classic (playing Thursday, March 13, at the Hollywood Theatre) and realize it’s almost completely devoid of any racial dialogue. 

Colors—as in those of the rainbow—are important to this tale of Coney Island thugs falsely accused of murdering Cyrus (Roger Hill, who died recently), a gang leader with shades of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. who wanted gangs to put away their differences and unite against the police. In the war zone that is New York, it’s color that defines these hoodlums, from the brown pleather vests of the Warriors to the black jackets of the rival Rogues, the purple of the Boppers to the orange of the Hi-Hats. Yet skin color is irrelevant: The Warriors exists in a strange vacuum where racial tension doesn’t seem to exist. 

The gangs are like a U.N. assembly of street criminals. The titular squad has members who are black, white and Puerto Rican. That doesn’t mean they’re saints. They’re rapists and murderers, as are their rivals, whether roller-skating dudes in overalls, bat-wielding clowns paying homage to A Clockwork Orange, or hare-lipped numbskulls. But no one is racist. And in this genre, that’s as rare as a Blood taking a Crip out to brunch. 

The Warriors, largely considered the prototype for street-gang cinema, is a multicultural experience. That casting choice frees up the film from being an overwrought treatise and instead allows viewers to focus on the balletic fights, psychedelic cinematography and comic-book ambiance. Can you dig it? Hell yes you can. Hollywood Theatre. 7:30 pm Thursday, March 13.


Also Showing: 

  • Am I the only one who thinks that if A League of Their Own’s Rockford Peaches could get that good that fast, they were juicing? That whole “crying in baseball” thing? ’Roids make you emotional. Hollywood Theatre. 7:15 pm Wednesday, March 12.
  • After nearly three decades, Airplane! remains the prototype for every spoof that came after it (for good or ill), and an inspiration for comedians like Alex Falcone, who hits the stage before a screening of the screwball classic. Mission Theatre. 8 pm Wednesday, March 12.
  • The NW Film Center pays tribute to a local hero with Beyond Beyond: The Bob Moricz A/V Mixtape, a series of shorts spanning the neo-expressionistic filmmaker’s work (full disclosure: I have no idea what that means). NW Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium. 7 pm Thursday, March 13.
  • The rare documentary Mr. Alder and the Opera offers a behind-the-scenes look at the world of the San Francisco Opera in 1981. Hollywood Theatre. 7 pm Thursday, March 13.
  • Considering it took 45 years for Gravity to finally give Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey a worthy partner in future double features, it’s safe to say HAL 9000’s legacy will be intact for a long time. Laurelhurst Theater. March 14-20.
  • Speaking of hypothetical double features, A Clockwork Orange and The Warriors would be a nice pairing. Academy Theater. March 14-20.
  • That Team America: World Police managed to lampoon the modern political environment better than any other film while starring fornicating puppets is either a testament to Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s underrated genius, or a really sad commentary on contemporary satire. 5th Avenue Cinema. Friday-Sunday, March 14-16.
  • Harry Dean Stanton, a punk-rock Emilio Estevez, aliens and government spooks combine in Alex Cox’s Repo Man, one of the strangest and most enduringly bugfuck critiques of the Reagan era. Hollywood Theatre. March 14-20.
  • The NW Film Center continues its Studio Ghibli series with two brilliant outliers. 1990’s Only Yesterday (2 pm Saturday, March 15) uses animation to illustrate the coming of age of a young woman, eschewing the fantastical for the realistic, while 1997’s Princess Mononoke (4:30 pm Saturday, March 15) amps up the fantasy, ditching the kindhearted beasts that mark works like Spirited Away for a violent, bloody adventure. NW Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium.
  • Burt Lancaster continues to haunt the Whitsell with a trio of classics, including the 1947 prison drama Brute Force (Friday-Saturday, March 14-15) and two Westerns: In John Sturges’ classic Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (4:30 pm Sunday, March 16), Lancaster plays Wyatt Earp, with Kirk Douglas as his huckleberry Doc Holiday, while Vera Cruz (7 pm Sunday, March 16) teams the star with Gary Cooper as two tough guys stuck in the Mexican Revolution. NW Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium. 
  • Disney’s 1965 Haley Mills crapfest That Darn Cat! has already been remade once. Inevitably, when it’s remade again, the cat will probably have a blog. And be voiced by Anna Faris. Hollywood Theatre. Saturday-Sunday, March 15-16. 
 
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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