Tuesday, July 3, 2007

School Days

During that lovely, mystical time when midnight movies reigned and every weekend included a stoned-out trip to the local revival house, Lindsay Anderson’s 1968 skewering of the British public school system, If… (Criterion, $40) was a mainstay. My teenaged posse and I saw it many times, reveling in the central performance from a very youthful Malcolm McDowell, cheering the us-against-them theme of rebellion, and remaining transfixed by the movie’s surreal qualities, especially it’s inexplicable switches from black and white to color. The movie easily withstands the test of time, remaining an essential post-studio British film, a vivid evocation of the violence churning through the atmosphere of those times, and a highly lyrical bit of filmmaking featuring a stunning debut from the explosive and dreamy McDowell. (McDowell played the same character, one Mick Travis, in a subsequent Anderson film, 1973’s O Lucky Man, which has yet to be released on DVD.)

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