The Milagro Beanfield War (1988)
Ruben Blades, Richard Bradford, Sonia Braga, Julie Carmen, Melanie Griffith, John Heard, Daniel Stern, Chick Vennera & Christopher Walken.
Written by John Nichols & David Ward.
Directed by Robert Redford.
In the beautiful country surrounding Milagro, New Mexico, developers plan to build a resort that will have disastrous consequences for the locals. When a poor bean farmer (Vennera) decides to use the developments’ water supply to irrigate his beanfield, he stirs up a whirlwind of strife that eventually involves the entire town. This whimsical tale has a cast of many talented performers – from Blades as the humdrum town sheriff, to Walken as the company man who attempts to subvert the efforts of the townspeople trying to put a stop to the capitalist plans of big business. Often fanciful, this morally uplifting film is deftly handled by director Redford and buoyed along by a wonderful score by Dave Grusin. Taken from co-screenwriter John Nichol’s novel, this is one of those movies that somewhat slipped through the 80’s cracks – however it still remains one of the decades’ best films.
The Ninth Configuration (1980)
Stacy Keach, Scott Wilson, Jason Miller, Ed Flanders, Moses Gunn & Robert Loggia.
Written & Directed by William Peter Blatty.
At an old castle used by the US military as an asylum, the inmates are greeted by the arrival of the new head psychiatrist, Colonel Kane (Keach). He proceeds to indulge their whims and many begin to suspect that he is nuttier than they are. But that’s only the beginning of this ‘metaphysical nightmare’, often referred to as the true sequel to The Exorcist. Rarely seen, this incredible film features some of the most brilliant dialogue ever written – an endless barrage of psychological theories pertaining to the existence of good and evil and their place in humanity. Adapted from Blatty’s own novel Twinkle, Twinkle, Killer Kane (the film’s title at one point – see poster above) this classic film features wild performances from all involved, a crazy barroom brawl and a denouement that will knock your socks off. The Ninth Configuration is a must-see for anyone who loves writing and the art of filmmaking, especially those who think they have seen or heard it all.
Embedded File of a Ninth Configuration scene:
The Gate (1987)
Stephen Dorff, Louis Tripp & Christa Denton.
Written by Michael Nankin.
Directed by Tibor Takacs.
Perpetual nobody Stephen Dorff was once close to becoming the next hot thing in Hollywood. Some poor career choices left that option wanting, and he soon disappeared into the B-Grade netherworld. Before all that even happened, he was your typical 80’s teenager opening the gates of hell in his backyard in The Gate, a dodgy addition to the myriad horror films churned out by the studios in the wake of such successes like A Nightmare On Elm Street. According to esteemed critic Leonard Maltin, The Gate came close to topping that Hoffman/Beatty disaster Ishtar in its opening weekend, which gives you an idea of how crap both films were. Cheesy effects and cheesy acting, coupled with a good helping of mozzarella writing made The Gate yet another piece of horror trash that has been relegated to the annuls of film oblivion.
(Wadrick Jones is a freelance writer for GritFX and will post weekly thirty second film reviews on this blog.)