While the crowd was a little inept at call-and-response, it was because they were so eclectic. Not all of them were familiar with the conventions of Hip Hop or how to be interactive with it. This didn’t matter. We had young and old, republican and liberal, intellectuals and party-animals out to have a good time with us.
The political unrest and paranoia of this film mirrors our current social climate to a point beyond familiarity. It makes itself accessible to the populace in a way that is still relevant.
Musically, Elzhi has aged well. His spacey soundscapes—akin to Zion I or Kid Cudi—make this album versatile. The synth-based beats conjure up feelings of both melancholy and joy.
His hallmark witticisms and complex, cryptic abstractions carry this album noticeably less; while still prevalent, there’s a distinctly autobiographical and introspective quality to this album.
Furthering his break from the archetypal rapper, his unabashed reflections on his insecurities impacted me deeply. Hip-Hop is driven by bravado, even in the conscientious circles. Teodros rejects this tone and instead offers a soberly candid voice void of self-aggrandizing pretenses.
Instead of iterating what’s been said enough, in honor of election season, I’d like to draw parallels to today, attesting to The Great Dictator’s timelessness. Americans have been quick to afford political candidates their opinions, but are often exaggerated in their criticisms. Expedient attacks by comparison to Hitler are commonplace, vilifying whatever politician is against your predilection. If not Hitler, the Anti-Christ. In fairness, the Trumpster isn’t a genocidal maniac, and I doubt Hilary’s questionable sincerity is enough to usher in the apocalypse. But let’s check just to be safe.
Of no credit to Gavras and his team beyond simply choosing to make a film about London, his story is inherently interesting; London was an actor—in some capacity—in the Spanish civil war; a Jew and a communist, he had spent time in occupied France which lead to his internment in a concentration camp (where, according to the film, one of his children was born); and he endured an undeserving fate as a political pawn of the Soviet Union to indict the West.
In its treatment of fidelity, class issues (the reason Hans is unable to marry his true love), skewed values, family relationships, and the rest of the contorted social paradigm represented, this film allows its viewers to be moved—even in its derision.
So I’ve arrived at the unavoidable question: What is the criteria for Criterion? Inasmuch as I’ve gathered, it simply must be “great”. But that’s still subjective and, as a consumer, I want to know that my purchases are backed by some level of scrutiny.
State of Siege, directed by Costa-Gavras and written by Franco Solinas, offers a glimpse inside South American politics and the U.S. involvement therein.