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Native L.A. 

Wednesday, Jul 23 2008
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Los Angeles has always been a town of schisms and divisions. The movie stars and real estate developers bask in the bright lights, while the grinders and grifters bob and weave in the shadows. The down-and-outers in The Exiles, Kent MacKenzie’s fascinating forgotten artifact from 1961, are Indians (to use the language of the period) stranded between the anachronistic traditions of the reservation and the out-of-reach promises of the big city. Shot in romantic, unforgiving black-and-white with a cast of non-professionals, this unusually natty strand of neo-realism spans a night exactly like every other in the low-rent neighborhood of Bunker Hill. The laconic Homer (Homer Nish) heads out with ladies’ man Tommy (Tommy Reynolds) and a few other unemployed, immature pals for a couple of Lucky Lagers, a hand of cards, a bottle of Thunderbird, and a fight or two. Meanwhile, his diffident wife Yvonne (Yvonne Williams) catches a movie alone, her yearning for change building quietly as the night goes on. The Exiles was conceived as a rebuttal both to Hollywood’s stereotypes of Indians and the studio system’s bloated, embalmed output. Today it plays like a time capsule-preserved record of a soulful, integrated L.A. before the city (and the country) was McDonald’s-ized. If you don’t have a drink before the show, you’ll sure want one afterward.
Aug. 14-7, 7 p.m., 2008

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Michael Fox

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