Film Review: Mirror Mirror Series – Network @ Chapter

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Mirror Mirror Series
Chapter Arts Centre

Network, 1976
Dir: Sidney Lumet
15, 117 mins

Chapter Arts Centre’s Mirror Mirror season has taken flight. Reflecting on cinema game changers of the past and recent films that reflect current revolutions in the field, this season looks to be a great success.

Things were off to a jolting start with Christine, which brilliantly captured the mental health and suicide of its subject, Christine Chubbuck was the first person to kill themselves on American television. Rebecca Hall’s lack of an Oscar nomination, is deeply unjustified and the film holds up as an important work of recent cinema.

Network is a bitingly satirical jab at network TV, it may even be one of the great performance pieces of cinema of the late 70s. Mirroring the real life Chubbuck’s declaration, Howard Beale declares he is going to shot himself live on television. What follows is a bizarre and often hilarious progression of Beale and those around him. His rise to fame, is only countered by his downfall and eventual tragic demise.

Claiming to be infused with a great vitality, he then gets his own special show where he blathers furiously about what is wrong with America and how each person can make a difference. His manic mantra of “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!” is now legendary. Had this been made today, this could have easily been a meme, even if it lacks in conciseness. It really is the definition of hot air, like a politician who charms with words people want to hear and has no real answers or even a plan.

Peter Finch’s Beale, is an Oscar winning performance and rightly so. His mania, (though futile) whips up mad hysteria, with the public even shouting his famous word outside their windows. Faye Dunaway is Diana Christensen, a snazzy and ruthless producer, hell bent on mending the news, staging fake political revolutions and bigging up the hysteria around Beale.

Her relationship with married Max Schumacher (William Holden) is adulterous and gradually leads to a huge generational divide and difference of opinion of how TV should be created and broadcast. Robert Duvall here is Frank Hackett, your typical big cheese TV station man.

It’s in some ways a brutal film, which should totally have a remake to compare and contrast just to see the journey TV has gone on and how news is present and analysed.

Rating: 4 stars


Film Review: Christine

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