American Mythologies (1981)
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Amos Gitai is a filmmaker who doesn't shy away from confrontation. In his documentaries, he often asks his probing questions from behind the camera, with little regard for his subject's comfort level. This is certainly true of his two-part documentary, AMERICAN MYTHOLOGIES, which takes a cynical look at American culture in the early 1980s. Gitai opens his film with a large gathering of citizens, and news media, awaiting the arrival in Washington of the hostages from Iran. He then quickly shifts the scene to the set of a Jordache Jeans commercial, where a model tells him how important her smile is in selling the product. Pressed by Gitai, she admits that the focus of the ad will not be her face. Gitai, through interviews with Americans of widely varied social strata, captures a pivotal moment in the culture of the United States. Fashion designer Betsey Johnson unwittingly sums up the direction American culture was headed in when she says, in explaining her preference for the Reagans over the Carters, "Good taste is boring. They have more flair." Through interviews with those who have chosen to remove themselves from the larger culture, Gitai provides an answer to some of the uncomfortable questions he raises.This film was screened as part of an Amos Gitai retrospective organized by New York City's Anthology Film Archives. … More
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