Initially considered a bleak, pitch-black satire upon its release in 1976, with each passing year, Network looks more and more like some kind of psychic documentary. Screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky must have been channeling Cassandra when he composed this story of a major television network that chooses to sell out its ideals in pursuit of the almighty share points. Peter Finch deservedly won a posthumous Oscar for his portrayal of Howard Beale, a veteran news anchor who goes insane on-air and subsequently has his instability milked by the corrupt corporate owners who see the ratings potential of giving a raving lunatic a forum on live television. Their cynical gamble pays off and the network becomes more successful than ever as they continue to cater to the basest human interests by adding programming like Fear Factor, Rock of Love, Cheaters , and . . . oh wait, even were getting confused now. Network remains brutally effective in its condemnation of exploitation in all its forms and could easily be considered one of the greatest American films of all time.
Fri., Nov. 7, 8 p.m., 2008