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In MacArthur Park

Last seen as a clip in Thom Anderson’s bravura documentary collage, Los Angeles Plays Itself, Bruce Schwartz’s In MacArthur Park (1977) makes its DVD debut this week, thus filling a crucial gap in the home video fossil record of Los Angeles independent film production. With an American Film Institute grant in the bank and a few previously shot scenes from an actor’s workshop in the can, Schwartz spent 20 days shooting on location in and around MacArthur Park to tell the story of Triam Lee (Adam Silver), a Native American at the end of his rope who kills a man in a botched mugging. Having fled the poverty of an Arizona reservation in the hopes of providing support for his wife and son back home (seen in flashback), Lee spends most of the film after the murder on the run from the cops, ducking in and out of the area’s seedier locations — a dive bar, flophouses, a bus station — with a brief interlude on a paradisiacal Westside. A powerful portrait of a man alone driven to desperate deeds, In MacArthur Park is a Native American Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song with an equally politically charged aesthetic that challenges the media-produced image of the Los Angeles Police Department. In an interview that accompanies this Facets release, Schwartz says he was going for a cinéma vérité feel, but his low-budget, hand-held, black-and-white approach also evokes Dragnet’s iconic, bare-bones style. Opening with titles that identify place, “Los Angeles,” and time, “March 7, 1977,” the film shifts perspective, from pursuer to pursued, to show the realities of poverty and race that always seemed to be left out in Sergeant Friday’s pursuit of “just the facts.”Other recommended new releases: Cafe Lumiere (DVD); Grizzly Man (VHS-DVD); 2046 (DVD).Also released this week:DVD: American Pie Presents: Band Camp; America’s Funniest Home Videos: Best of Kids & Animals; Andy Andrews: The Seven Decisions; Black Dawn; Criss Angel: Mindfreak: The Complete Season One; Dark Water; Gilbert & Sullivan: The Mikado; Girls Gone Wild: Girls Who Like Girls; The History Channel Presents The Crusades: Crescent & The Cross; Into the Blue; Nowhere Man: The Complete Series; Ricky Nelson Sings; Seaquest DSV: Season One; The Shield: The Complete Fourth Season; Toy Story 2 (2-Disc Special Edition); Twilight Zone: Season 5: The Definitive Edition; The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill; WWE Survivor Series 2005