Taking a break from the bound society, I checked out Network last night, a film which many critics consider one of the finest of its era. It's a well-done piece, which, while satirical, takes itself seriously forcing you, for most of the film, to do the same. It didn't qualify as great for me because of a few moments of hamfisted, heavy-handed rants.
The worst of these was offered by Max Schumacher at the end, who gets off much easier than he deserves. The film allows Schumacher (William Holden) to preen and lecture Diana Christiansen (a stunning and powerful Faye Dunaway) on her morals and ethics, when Schumacher has already invested in the same game.
He's left his wife for Christiansen, and as she notes when they first meet, his own show was never exactly The Newshour. The result is that the last quarter of the film feels both too cynical and too softhearted. I don't have a problem with them killing Howard Beale. I just don't think Schumacher should have been allowed to walk away unblemished. I found Network--oddly enough like The Wire--to be at its best, at those moments when it was least confident about good and evil.
Still, it's a damn good film that manages to make some leaps which are at once incredible and, within the galaxy of the film, believable. I enjoyed it. And it's a lot better then its solemn and overly-confident imitators (Bulworth, Bamboozled etc.)
Ta-Nehisi Coates is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.
Born in 1975, the product of two beautiful parents. Raised in West Baltimore -- not quite The Wire, but sometimes ill all the same. Studied at the Mecca for some years in the mid-'90s. Emerged with a purpose, if not a degree. Slowly migrated up the East Coast with a baby and my beloved, until I reached the shores of Harlem. Wrote some stuff along the way.