Political turmoil always breeds strange artistic phenomena, and the movies are no exception. As the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue reclines in the West Wing, bone spurs resting beside the crumpled Wendy’s bag upon the Resolute Desk, one such phenomenon we’ve witnessed recently is that of Art as Response. In this scenario a filmmaker — like, say, Steven Spielberg — will work quickly to produce a movie — say The Post — as an active comment on whatever’s happening (or not happening) in the Oval Office. A second phenomenon involves us, the filmgoers and cinemalovers, and the way we inexorably view almost any new movie in the context of today’s political climate. A given film — like, say, Joker — might not actually hold inherent wisdom about that climate, but it’d be impossible for us to read it any other way.
Yet a third consequence of that intermingling of art and politics is even more inevitable than the second, despite it not concerning new art at all: a film — like, say, All the President’s Men or The Candidate or Charlie Wilson’s War or V for Vendetta or Dave or Idiocracy — reaches out from the past and seemingly connects with today in a way that defies explanation. It’s an experience somewhat related to the prescience of the sci-fi genre, and certain practitioners like George Orwell or Michael Crichton definitely had a penchant for it. I’d never considered Stephen King among that crowd of writers whose works could achieve time travel, politically speaking, but that was before I encountered The Dead Zone.
Continue reading The Dead Zone (1983)
Patrick: This past August, I lived in Pamplona, Spain which is directly on the route of “El camino de Santiago”, a famous 800 kilometer pilgrimage route through the Pyrenees to the shrine of Saint James in Northwestern Spain. Every day, I would see “pilgrims” with backpacks as big as they were walking by. Being an ignorant American, I asked a Spanish friend about all of the pilgrims, and he told me to watch the Martin “Seen” movie. After a puzzled look and a few Que?s I realized he was talking about Martin Sheen and the movie The Way.
Recently, I finally watched the Emilio Estevez movie starring his own father which, not coincidentally, is about a father who has lost his son on the camino and decides to do the walk himself to scatter his son’s ashes on the pilgrimage he could never finish. I started to watch the movie out of nostalgia for my short-lived home and to see all the sites again, but continued watching because I genuinely liked it. The movie has somewhat of an Into the Wild feel to it, with a personal journey and the bonds formed and lessons learned on it. Martin Sheen’s Tom relearns the importance of travel, feels more connected to his now-deceased son, and meets some interesting people along the way: Sarah takes the journey to quit smoking; Joost walks the 800 kilometers to lose weight; Jack needs the pilgrimage to beat his writer’s block. Together, they take the journey. And together, they make the journey that is The Way a fun but profound movie, certainly worth the watch whether you’ve lived in Navarra or never heard of it before.
Continue reading Netflix Picks #5
Terrence Malick’s debut feature film, Badlands, barrages its audience with the near-perfect execution of every aspect of film that one desires. From Malick’s masterful storytelling and characterization to the film’s deep insights on human nature and modern society alike, Badlands is full-on “GO!” for the entire ride. This film is absolutely filled with unexpected escalations and massive character arcs; thus, in respect to the film, this review must contain spoilers. If you are in the most unfortunate circumstance of not yet having seen this film, I implore you to please discontinue your reading of this review now.
In one of the best performances of his career, Martin Sheen, and the less well known, but greatly talented, Sissy Spacek star in the ninety-four minute thrill ride that is Badlands. Loosely based on the real-life killing spree of Charles Starkweather and Caril Ann Fugate, the film follows Kit (Sheen) and Holly (Spacek), who represent the real couple, respectively. Now if that doesn’t set the scene for sudden escalation, in-depth character development and just the slightest pinch of horror – a.k.a. the makings of an awesome f@#cking movie – then I’m not sure what will. However, their journey starts in the relative calmness of rural Texas. Here, Holly is still a young, innocent girl. A young, innocent girl with a desperately ill mother, suffering from pneumonia in a time and place where modern medicine is not far reaching. Texas becomes the burial ground of Holly’s mother. Texas is where her father is too often reminded of the loss of the love of his life. So, the pair leave Texas, venturing to South Dakota, hoping for a fresh start.
Continue reading Badlands (1973)