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THE EXILES - A Film By Kent Mackenzie
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Listen to Michel Martin and Susan Stone on these interviews from NPR

LISTEN TO SUSAN STONE ON THE EXILES ON NPR'S ALL THINGS CONSIDERED

LISTEN TO MICHEL MARTIN TALK WITH YVONNE WILLIAMS, LEAD CAST MEMBER IN THE EXILES

LISTEN MICHEL MARTIN TALK WITH CHALES BURNETT AND SHERMAN ALEXIE ABOUT THE EXILES

"The faces and voices, the drab flophouse interiors, the joy ride through the tunnel: Everything here is an emissary from another time, another place."

—MICHAEL PHILLIPS, CHICAGO TRIBUNE

"The Exiles is an object lesson in the value of honesty and realism in film. "

—CHRIS DASHIELL, ULAR PUBLIC RADIO

"The director's eye for telling detail is revealed in crisp, lingering shots. The film segues from hard realism to something more dreamlike in the drumming, chanting and dancing outside the city where no one can bother the urban Indians. It's a moment to recover a paradise lost. "

—SUSAN WALKER, THE STAR

"...The Exiles is a revelation on many counts."

—BILL STAMETS, CHICAGO SUN TIMES

"A fascinating hybrid of art and life, The Exiles may not hew faithfully to literal truth, but nonetheless conveys a form of artistic and experiential honesty that is inescapable. It's a mesmerizing marriage of poetry and prose. "

—ANN HORNADAY, WASHINGTON POST

"...the sights the film captures in downtown L.A. are fascinating..."

—CAM FULLER, THE STAR PHOENIX

"The Exiles needs to be seen."

—MICHAEL WILMINGTON, MOVIE CITY NEWS

"Possibly the first, probably the best, and surely the prettiest film about young, urban Native Americans."

—LINDY WEST, THE STRANGER

"The Exiles is a vivid portrait of Native American culture."

—JEFF VICE, DESERET NEWS

"What really is striking in watching The Exiles is the non-stop pace of the action, the terrific black-and-white cinematography and, above all, the absolutely dense soundtrack, full of music from that period blaring from the omnipresent radios and jukeboxes (mainly rock, but also jazz, boogie, blues), and the Indian percussion that the characters play in their gatherings on top of Hill X."

—QUINTIN, CINEMA SCOPE

"This is just about the most gorgeous restoration of an American independent film I've ever seen."

—JONATHAN ROSENBAUM, CINEMA SCOPE

"A rich film (visually and emotionally) that documents a vanished era."

—JACK BROWN, VALLEY ADVOCATE

"Rife with astonishing black-and-white images of an unknown L.A. and clashing sounds of bars, cinemas and poker games, The Exiles is one of those movies that functions as both artifact and fresh discovery."

—LISA KENNEDY, DENVER POST

"Kent Mackenzie's magnificent, long-undistributed, unclassifiable first feature, The Exiles, stands as a rare consideration of the inner and outer lives of American Indians in a big American city."

—WESLEY MORRIS, THE BOSTON GLOBE

"Kent Mackenzie's The Exiles is a fascinating fragment thrown up on the beach, just at the point when you'd given up hope of ever seeing it."

—SCOTT EYMAN, PALM BEACH POST

"The film is receiving justifiable praise for its documentary aspects, but it?s more than a historical record: Mackenzie (who passed away at 50 in 1980) was a serious filmmaker and The Exiles is an observant, empathic, and haunting film with a street poetry all its own. Its nighttime photography is astonishingly vivid and immersive, perfectly capturing the architecture, faces, and bodies of its teeming urban setting."

—DOUG CUMMINGS, FILM JOURNEY

"The character, cultural and historical values of "The Exiles" would be enough for a dozen movies, but it's also a mind-blowing formal achievement. "

—BOB STRAUSS, LA CITYBEAT

"Every listener is likely to agree that the rockin' jukebox soundtrack by the Revels (yes, the same band whose "Comanche" powered "Pulp Fiction") is one of the best ever heard...Anyone who cares about this town or great cinema that can be as poetic as it is grittily natural just has to attend The Exiles "

—BOB STRAUSS, LA DAILY NEWS

"The story of these aimless, trapped individuals, cut off from anything that could be meaningful, draws you like quicksand, slowly but inexorably. Rootless and dispossessed at a time when taking pride in the culture you were born into wasn't done, these people are deeply troubled without being able to articulate the cause. Which is why it is so moving to have this lost film about different forms of loss back among us again. "

—KENNETH TURAN, LA TIMES

"The restoration and long-delayed commercial release of 'THE EXILES,' a 1961 film about a largely forgotten corner of that deceptively bright city, is nothing less than a welcome act of defiant remembrance... A beautifully photographed slice of down-and-almost-out life, a near-heavenly vision of a near-hell that Mr. Mackenzie situated at the juncture of nonfiction and fiction. He tapped into the despair of this obscured world while also making room for the poetry and derelict beauty of its dilapidated buildings, neon signs, peeling walls and downcast faces."

—MANOHLA DARGIS, NEW YORK TIMES

"'THE EXILES' surely deserves a place in the history of American independents alongside John Cassavettes' 'Shadows,' but its cautious depiction of a situation rarely reported even today gives it a permanence that has held up over the decades."

INDIEWIRE

"A-...Never previously released, it's a revelation...[Mackenzie] touches something elemental: the temper of American life before people camouflaged their sadness in irony."

—OWEN GLEIBERMAN, ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY

"For intrepid cinephiles, the rewards of Kent Mackenzie's long-lost film are savory, and well worth seeking out...[THE EXILES] is an acute, great-looking, doggedly noncommittal view of a culture. It is a precious document of a vanished culture. Seeing [THE EXILES] is thus a good deed, for the selfless saints of film preservation and for the part of any moviegoer open to a fresh experience from an old film. So if you're in the vicinity and can't get into The Dark Knight, try Mackenzie's film; it has twice the angst at half the running time. And next week, if it's a choice between The X Files and THE EXILES, take a chance on the little guy."

—RICHARD CORLISS, TIME MAGAZINE

"MIRACULOUS... a Pilgrim's Progress of three characters through a night of urban loneliness and dissipation, [THE EXILES] has an epic grandeur and a monumental intimacy ... the night photography alone would make the film immortal. Few directors in the history of cinema have so skillfully and deeply joined a sense of place with the subtle flux of inner life."

—RICHARD BRODY, THE NEW YORKER

"The loneliness, despair, and renewal in this semidocumentary account of native Americans living in Los Angeles is some of the most eloquent in American cinema."

—PETER RAINER, CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR

"Almost 50 years and countless Sundance Film Festivals after Mackenzie's look at Native American life in the city and off the rez, it's still - unfortunately - a one-of-a-kind work. Mackenzie follows both [Yvonne and Homer] with a Weegee-like attention to detail that alights on everything from mechanical monkeys that blow bubbles to boisterous queens at a bar."

—JOHNNY RAY HUSTON, SAN FRANCISCO BAY GUARDIAN

"By focusing on a sloshed night-in-the-life of this group, Mackenzie locates urban malcontent rather than inventing it. Mackenzie wasn't a native Angeleno, much less an American Indian, but his outsider perspective enlarges THE EXILES...A true preservationist whose work has now been treated in kind."

—MAX GOLDBERG, SAN FRANCISCO BAY GUARDIAN

"This stealthy film is one of the screen's great epic poems, and an L.A. movie unlike any other. The difference between day and night evaporates in the glow...Mackenzie's work takes hold like blues, simple yet dense. It halts on the skipped beat of a subculture and sounds a selfless, whispered cry."

—KENNETH CRAB, THE INDYPENDENT

"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...Today it plays like a time capsule-preserved record of a soulful, integrated L.A."

—MICHAEL FOX, SAN FRANCISCO WEEKLY

"Mackenzie's sparkling, moody black-and-white images of what might be called the Native American Diaspora... depict a classic American story of aspiration and tragedy. It is beautiful and devastating."

—ARMOND WHITE, NEW YORK PRESS

"This 50-year-old film about a Los Angeles neighborhood on the skids and its barely tethered dwellers stands as the freshest movie in theaters... The movie walks a nightworld so crackling with unfocused energy—so alive with threat, promise, and raw honking rock 'n' roll, yet so limited in any sense of a future—that to enter it is to feel your blood surge."

—JIM RIDLEY, VILLAGE VOICE

"CRITICS PICK. Kent Mackenzie's jazzy 1961 film chronicles a day in the life of a group of Native Americans who left their reservations in favor of the glitz and smoke fifties Los Angeles. Surprisingly enthralling and breathtakingly gorgeous, it's almost astonishing that this find languished in the archives for so long."

—SARA CARDACE, NEW YORK MAGAZINE

"THE EXILES is almost unbearably intimate, allowing us to ride along for a raucous night on the town while simultaneously peering into its deeply conflicted characters' souls."

—SAUL AUSTERLITZ, LOS ANGELES TIMES

" Kent Mackenzie's transfixing 72-minute drama THE EXILES arrives like a message in a bottle...You can only brood on the near half-century since THE EXILES was shot-and be grateful that someone went to that place and captured it all."

—DAVID EDELSTEIN, NEW YORK MAGAZINE

"Kent Mackenzie's THE EXILES is haunted by absence. The nonprofessional performers are suddenly present again, telling their stories and acting out their daily lives. The bars, shops and tenements of Bunker Hill have once more sprung into view, in glistening, nocturnal, black-and-white cinematography. It's as if someone had done a ghost dance and it worked, just a little—enough to turn your sigh into a gasp of amazement."

—STUART KLAWANS, THE NATION

"An astonishing, heartbreaking viewing experience and, in its new release from Milestone Films, a major work of restoration and rediscovery. Mackenzie's miraculous black-and-white images (as lovingly restored by Ross Lipman at the UCLA Film & Television Archive) literally capture a vanished physical landscape, from the predominantly Indian dive bars and grindhouse movie theaters of Main Street to the Angels Flight tramway and decaying Victorian rooming houses of Bunker Hill."

—ANDREW O'HEHIR, SALON.COM

"[THE EXILES] comes none too soon to enthrall serious cinephiles seeking respite from the assaultive bombast of studio summer blockbusters."

—WADE MAJOR, BOXOFFICE

"THE EXILES has been hailed as a landmark in American independent cinema, and called one of the most honest portrayals of contemporary Native American life ever filmed. Both those claims are verifiable. Compared to the slick approach that Hollywood took even to the "social problem" films of the era, THE EXILES is bracing and raw!"

—NOEL MURRAY, THE ONION

"These Indians are exiles - from their broken society, their reservations, and themselves - and we feel it looking into their expressive, sad faces and hearing their musings on their lives...this film deserves the embrace of a film public hungering for original, homegrown independent films that tell us who we are."

—MARILYN FERDINAND, BRIGHT LIGHTS FILM JOURNAL

"Mackenzie lived only long enough to make one other feature, but this film's lower-case urban poetry suggests a major talent...It can hold its own next to John Cassavetes' Shadows, which came out a year earlier...It has beautiful high-contrast black-and-white photography, a dense and highly creative sound track, and moving portraits, and it;s refreshingly free of clichés and platitudes - all the makings of an instant classic."

—JONATHAN ROSENBAUM CHICAGO READER

"An arresting accomplishment."

TIME MAGAZINE

"The desolate image of modern man cut off from any meaningful tradition, preserving identity only through group difference and hostility toward the patterns of environment, is, as people used to say, an 'eye-opener'... It [THE EXILES] is a work conceived in the tradition of Robert Flaherty - but instead of recreating a culture that has dissapeared, MacKenzie shows us the living ruins...In the future, those who are interested in the American motion picture, are likely to refer to 1961 not in terms of the big Hollywood productions, but as the year of THE EXILES and Sunday."

—PAULINE KAEL

"It is an original and personal film which defies classification...there is an underlying feeling of honesty and integrity...it begins to uncover and reveal more depth than any of the incomplete 'epic' approaches which pretend to have great scope."

—BENJAMIN JACKSON FILM QUARTERLY

"The late writer-director and his three cinematographers Erik Daarstad, Robert Kaufman, and John Merril clearly loved the textural possibilities of the medium, and color, too, which might seem odd to say of a movie in black and white, yet Mackenzie responds to the dark hues present in daylight as well as to tints of light within darkness. He arranges them so expressively on-screen that after I walked out of the theatre, even so unprepossessing a corner as 12th Avenue and Pike Street seemed vibrant; in 72 minutes, Mackenzie altered how I perceive night. Through his images of oncoming headlights and stirred-up dust within a dark blanket of night sky, or a pan across a hilltop vista of city lights that distantly illumine the metropolis below, he made me more aware of what I'm seeing, walking, living in. Turning the corner, a little wave hit me: the sadness that his brilliant career was so short."

—N. P. THOMPSON, MOVIES INTO FILM

"Gripping, dramatic, tender and true, THE EXILES is an outstanding motion picture. It is a scrupulously accurate and authentic portrayal of what happens to many American Indians when they come from the reservation to the big city."

—WILL ROGERS, JR. NATIONAL CONGRESS OF AMERICAN INDIANS

"THE EXILES is in my opinion a great documentary. It marks the renaissance of the social documentary in the Flaherty and Grierson tradition. It also demonstrates great technical virtuosity, unusual sensitivity, and insight, and the rare ability to make a meaningful, empathetic filmic statement about people and their problems."

—WILLIAM J. SPEED LOS ANGLELES PUBLIC LIBRARY

"THE EXILES is a film of greater social implications not confined to America. It is also a film of interest—regarding the development of documentary techniques. For both these reasons it deserves wide showing by film societies."

BRITISH FILM NEWS

Despite all the critical homage to Robert Flaherty, few young Americans work in his tradition. In recent years only the Kent Mackenzie group has brought new vitality to his kind of documentary. THE EXILES is both a work of integrity and a proof of dedication."

—PAULINE KAEL

"The best films are the most difficult to write about, and Kent Mackenzie's exceptional THE EXILES is no exception."

MOVIES INTO FILM, APRIL 2005

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