I’ve just finished reading a 5.24 Salon piece about an allegedly strong domestic drama called Bad Hurt, which played at last month’s Tribeca Film Festival but currently has no commercial distributor. Bill Curry‘s article, titled “Karen Allen’s brilliant comeback: A Raiders of the Lost Ark star forsakes Hollywood for a brilliant, blue-collar film,” describes Mark Kemble‘s film, an adaptation of his 2007 stage play called “Bad Hurt on Cedar Street,” as an American kitchen sink drama — “a good movie that felt very real.”
“American cinema never got into social realism,” Curry writes. “Italian neorealists like De Sica, Rossellini and Fellini had counterparts in British ‘kitchen sink’ auteurs such as Tony Richardson and Lindsay Anderson in new-wave film movements everywhere in the world but here. Such films show people trapped by income, education or family circumstance who don’t get rescued by upward mobility or the kindness of strangers. In America the idea of anyone being trapped in the system is heresy, but after 40 years of political and economic stagnation that may be starting to change.”
There’s never been an American kitchen sink genre, true, but what about the Warner Bros. gangster and social unrest films of the ’30s? What about the film noir movement of the mid ’40s to mid ’50s? Weren’t they delivering social realism? And I’ll go along with the idea that Ronald Reagan contributed greatly to the poisoning the culture by deregulating and encouraging 1% greed and flamboyance, but Reagan came into office 34 and 1/3 years ago. Were did Curry get 40?
“We need films to challenge and provoke as well as entertain us,” Curry writes. “With politics so empty and corrupt, we need art to get us talking again about stuff that matters. When political democracy is dying, cultural and economic democracy may bring it back to life.”