Kent MacKenzie’s film The Exiles is like watching Germany Year Zero set in L.A. The film tells the story of a handful of Native Americans who’ve moved to Los Angeles. Like Charles Burnett’s Killer of Sheep, also released by Milestone Films, it shows another Los Angeles, stripped of the glitz and glamor.
Think Cassavetes’ Shadows starring a cast of Native Americans who are struggling to find a way to fit into a society that’s locked them out. This isn’t a bunch of beatniks who feel themselves apart from the mainstream; this is a film about people who live parallel lives.
It’s amazing to see movies from this period shot in a neorealist style. Not only do you get a great sense of the characters in context, you get to see the city as it is. The streetscapes are as gritty as anything in a Hollywood noir. It’s an amazing glimpse into a world almost completely ignored in film. Definitely worth checking out.