Brian De Palma's 'Hi, Mom!' [I See White People]
Two screenings of 'Hi, Mom!', one of Robert De Niro's first movie roles which explores pornography, voyuerism, racism, and the manipulative power of cinema through Brian De Palma's biting satirical lens.
"Brian De Palma's "Hi, Mom!" stands out for its wit, its ironic good humor, its multilevel sophistications, its technical ingenuity, its nervousness, and its very special ability to bring the sensibility of the suburbs to the sins of the inner city" - Movie Review, "The New York Times", 1970
"...The 'Be Black, Baby' sequence, ...aided by a deliberate dissection of a very real social stress point,...is one of the most thrilling left turns ever filmed. The theme of voyeurism, which up to this point had been treated as a blue joke, becomes a hellish shattering of the seemingly secure fourth wall, both for the on-screen audience of upper-crust whites who attend the show...as well as the actual film's audience."- Eric Henderson, Slant Magazine, June 11, 2004 (http://www.slantmagazine.com/film/review/hi-mom/1035)
Dir. Brian De Palma, 1970, 87 min.
'Hi, Mom!' is a black comedy featuring Robert De Niro in one of his first movie roles, reprising his role of Jon Rubin from De Palma's earlier Greetings. In this film, Rubin is a fledgling "adult filmmaker" who has an idea to post cameras at his window and video tape his neighbors. Its most memorable sequence is one where a black radical group invite a group of WASPs to feel what it's like to be black, in a sequence called 'Be Black, Baby'. It is both a satire and an example of the experimental theatre and cinéma vérité movements. Shot in the style of a documentary film, it features a theater group of African American actors interviewing Caucasians on the streets of New York City, asking them if the whites know what it is like to be black in America. De Palma's familiarity and collaboration with experimental theatre informs the sequence and ratchets up the emotional impact of those who view it, simultaneously engaging their personal responses to racism and commenting on the deceptive and manipulative power of cinema. "If truth itself is plastic," the sequence asks, "then filmed truth is deeply flawed."
Part of "I See White People" - quarterly series on the visibility of white racism, white privilege and unacknowledged white cultures in documentary and fiction film.
Maysles Cinema (View)
343 Lenox Ave.
New York, NY 10027
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