The lens of youth, "a wonderful country that's growing" and beginning to ask questions. From the onset a confrontational stance, the callow New Yorker (Jonathan Warden) strolls into a bar with a slur in hopes of getting bruised out of military service, draft-dodging is but one of the arts scrutinized. Swishy lessons before caged bears and mock-goosesteps down Greenwich Village, "a little overzealous" but just right for the war (cp. Cline's Private Snuffy Smith). The conspiracy buff (Gerrit Graham) meanwhile has his hands full with the JFK assassination and the Antonioni shadow, his sleeping girlfriend's bare torso makes a handy canvas for theories on bullet trajectories. (Zoom out on the red-white-and-blue pamphlet covering her saucy bits, zoom in on the smudged amplified photograph.) "I saw Blow-Up, I know how this comes out." Brian De Palma's jangly counterculture revue, an ode to mooks and pervs and assorted revolutionaries in the manner of Godard's faits précis. His favorite scalawag is the aspiring indie auteur (Robert De Niro) who likes the idea of cinema as interactive keyhole: "Peepers are persevering optimists," he talks the charming shoplifter (Rutanya Alda) into letting him record "a beautiful private moment," a reconfiguration of Warhol's Beauty #2 with a Sherlock Jr. punchline. Jump-cuts in improv sessions, lascivious fast-motion picked up by A Clockwork Orange, the camera's wandering focus (trendy soiree, garrulous vet in the foreground, hippie chick in the back). Rendezvous at the bookstore (a parallelism with Oshima, a dollop of Rivette), in the museum there's the pornographer of taste (Allen Garfield) with reels inside his coat. Hitchcock/Truffaut on the bookshelf along with Malcolm X posters on the bedroom wall, "two views from Vietnam," the mysteries of the Warren Commission and computer dating. The perfect expression of the time and place closes with the voyeur in the bush, Mr. President brings it all back home for Hi, Mom! With Richard Hamilton, Megan McCormick, Tina Hirsch, and Peter Maloney.
--- Fernando F. Croce