Since about the middle of this year, I have been looking for a film that I could pin to the age of Donald Trump with great certainty. A film like Get Out is clearly an Obama-era pic. It would have a completely different resonance if it were released deep in Trump territory. Indeed, the fact that the white family in Get Out voted for Obama is the key to the film's horror. If they were Trump voters, the horror would hardly surprise us or be interesting.
The TV show Mr. Robot is strange because it refuses to leave Obama's presidency and gives Trump no voice at all, as he is clearly a puppet. Foreigners speak for him directly. No need for no talking puppet. Flesh and Blood, a low-budget indie film directed by Mark Webber, has the look and feel of an America that has been devastated by Trump's policies and mentally damaged by his idiotic tweets. It is set in a bombed-out Philadelphia neighborhood. Everyone is suffering and broke. The winter is cold and bitter. People on the street are high or trying to get high. Social services are a thing of the past. By design or not, this film is filled with the mood of our moment.
The story begins with a man leaving prison. He is white. He returns to his family (a mother and half-brother). The half-brother, Guillermo Santos, is half-brown and brainy. Indeed, the whole film could just easily have been Santos yapping about the strange things bobbing and boiling in his boy-mind. But the film, which is raw and gritty, is essentially about the ex-con rebuilding his life in a multi-cultural neighborhood. But here is the thing. In an Obama film, racial and cultural mixing might represent cosmopolitanism; in Flesh and Blood, it looks like the place where all of the people who took a knee during the national anthem, who came from banned Muslim countries, whose birth certificates can not be verified, who lost everything Puerto Rico, who had their pussy grabbed have been dumped. By the way, the woman who plays the ex-con's mother, Cheri Honkala, was Jill Stein's running mate in the 2012 U.S. election.
Flesh and Blood screens at West Lenin on Saturday, December 9 (4:30pm and 7 pm), with a Q&A following each screening. See Movie Times for more information.