Borderlands (Zev Berman, 2007): 6.5/10

The Magic Flute (Ingmar Bergman, 1975): 7/10

La Guerre Est Finie (Alain Resnais, 1966): 7/10

Speed Racer (The Wachowski Brothers, 2008): 8/10

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Location: milwaukee, wi

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Days of Heaven (Terrence Malick, 1978)

This dreamlike piece of the American dream gone awry was only Malick's second major directorial project, and in the almost thirty years since, he's only made two other full-length films. It's no wonder Malick has an almost legendary reputation, solidified by the dreamy and beautiful imagery in his first two films. Days of Heaven stars Richard Gere and Brooke Adams as Bill and Abby, two turn of the century lovers who, along with Bill's sister Linda, travel around as laborers, searching for work so they just don't starve for another few months. Bill and Abby decide to pose as brother and sister in their travels, because, while it's never really explained, as Linda says, "When you tell people something, they start talking." There are rumors, as another laborer gets punched by Bill when he makes a joke about Abby keeping Bill warm at night, but they are mostly left alone. When they work at the farm of a sick farmer, nameless and played by Sam Shepard, who falls in love with Abby, Bill pushes her to marry him because he'll die in a year and leave them all his money. Well, love is a better medicine than anything else the farmer has tried, so instead of dying, he stays the same, and even gets Abby to fall for him a little. The emotions that Bill had hoped to manipulate come bubbling to the surface in a surge of violence that has consequences for every character.

The movie is extremely atmospheric, with many scenes of fields of grain blowing in the wind and other turn of the century scenery. The scene with the fire, where everything around the characters is on fire and there are locusts everywhere, is as much a scene of hell as anything I've seen on screen ever. While the setting is beautiful, the dialogue is less so, but that is because these are rough people who don't say much, much less beautiful, poetic speeches. The narration is given by Linda, and her young, rough accent is hard not to fall in love with. The movie, then, has almost a dreamlike quality; these lives seem to be predestined, and there's no use talking about it, because what happens, happens. All the performances are pretty great, especially Brooke Adams as the conflicted Abby; there are plenty of scenes that you can see the conflicting feelings in her fighting it out on her face, and it is a very realistic, heartbreaking performance. This movie is quietly devastating, and the last scene really speaks to the enduring nature of human spirit.


RIYL: Badlands

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