Reading, Watching 02.05
Books, Movies, Podcasts
This is a regular feature for paid subscribers wherein I write a little bit about what I’ve been reading and watching recently. Hope you enjoy!
On The Dig podcast there’s an excellent two-part interview with Professor Michael Denning on Antonio Gramsci and the theory of hegemony.
I’ve watched Cop Land (1997) so many times I should just admit to myself it’s one of my favorite movies. Written and directed by James Mangold, with help from New York Post columnist Mike McAlary, it’s based on Mangold’s own hometown in upstate New York. Here’s the premise: During the ’70s a bunch of cops decided they wanted out of New York. Taking advantage of a legal loophole, they formed a community just across the George Washington Bridge from Manhattan in the (fictional) town of Garrison, New Jersey. Twenty years later, Sylvester Stallone is Freddy Heflin, the sheriff of Garrison. Deaf in one ear, he is unable to get a job in the N.Y.P.D. A heartbroken, beaten-down figure, living in a state of quiet despair, he doesn’t have much to do: the cops (Harvey Keitel, Ray Liotta, Peter Berg among others) don’t take him seriously and treat him with condescension. Then a public scandal involving a hero cop (Michael Rapaport) who lives in Garrison and happens to be the nephew of the town’s top cop (Keitel) brings Internal Affairs (Robert DeNiro) to the village. I’m not gonna go much more into the plot, because it’s pretty labyrinthine and I don’t want to give any more away.
A kind of combination film noir, gangster flick, and “urban western,” as its makers billed it, the movie is pretty unsparing and realistic about police corruption, brutality, and racism. But it’s also very entertaining, well-written, and has good performances from its star-studded cast. A highlight in a supporting role is Cathy Moriarity from Raging Bull, who plays Keitel’s thoroughly disenchanted wife. It’s not as good as L.A. Confidential, another of my favorite movies, which came out the same year, but it’s another great look at the dark underbelly of policing.