Bill and Ted discuss Stanley Kramer’s social problem film “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” (1967) and Jordan Peele’s social thriller/horror film “Get Out” (2017). Released fifty years apart, Kramer’s film is about encouraging changing attitudes regarding racism in America where Peele’s film is about investigating how slow that progress actually has been. One film is filled with anxiety and optimistic hope, the other with anxiety and pessimistic doubt. Putting these films together is an exercise in comparisons and contrasts, a barometer of where N. American Culture has been and where it is now. Films aren’t only conversations with their audiences, sometimes they have conversations with each other. Join Bill and Ted for this experimental double feature episode.
Bill and Ted discuss Milos Forman’s 1975 adaptation of 60’s drug culture author Ken Kesey’s 1962 novel “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” R.P. McMurphy (Jack Nicholson), a violent offender, is sent to receive a psychiatric evaluation, and while institutionalized, befriends a group of residents as he struggles against the domineering Nurse Ratched (Louise Fletcher) who holds his future in her hands. It’s a film of stark contrasts swinging between compassion and contempt, despair and hope, power and vulnerability. Filled with compelling and nuanced supporting performances the film won five Oscars in 1976 including Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director, and Best Writing for an Adapted Screenplay.
Bill and Ted discuss Terry Gilliam’s 1981 Python-esque “Time Bandits” which focuses on a ten-year old boy, Kevin, who goes on an adventure through time with a band of would-be bandits on the lam having absconded with the Supreme Beings’ map of all the holes in the fabric of time. Filled with fun cameos from the likes of Sean Connery, Shelley Duvall, and John Cleese, Gilliam makes a kid’s film that doesn’t talk down to its audience. Part of a trilogy of film by Gilliam dealing with the imagination which also includes “Brazil” (1985) and “The Adventures of Baron Munchausen” (1989) Time Bandits is more concerned with questions of good and evil than the typical time travel obsession with causality.
Bill and Ted discuss Stanley Kubrick’s 1964 darkly satirical “Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb,” a film that invites viewers to question their general safety and sanity, and maybe even their precious bodily fluids. It’s a movie about geopolitics, atomic bombs, loyalty, patriotism, fluoridation, and fear … not your usual topics for a comedy but if you can’t laugh you might have to cry. Dr Strangelove is as fresh today as it was at the height of Cold War nuclear proliferation.
Bill and Ted discuss David Lynch’s 1984 adaptation of Frank Herbert’s Hugo and Nebula award winning novel “DUNE” first published in 1965. A complex, epic, science-fiction, surreal, eye-popping, auditory, extravaganza puzzle of a film that comes across like a dream, and, like a dream when awake, all the pieces of the puzzle don’t exactly fit. Dense and complex, dealing with themes of politics, religion, ecology, intergalactic colonialism, and commodity warfare, “DUNE” tells the story of Paul Atreides (Kyle MacLachlan), an orphaned prince who becomes a messianic leader while discovering his greater purpose and upending the whole order of the known universe. This episode is as long as the sand on Arrakis is deep.
Bill and Ted discuss Joel and Ethan Coen’s 2000 film “O Brother, Where Art Thou” featuring George Clooney, John Turturro and Tim Blake Nelson as escaped convicts Ulysses Everett McGill, Pete Hogwallop, and Delmar O’Donnell. Roaming rural 1930’s Mississippi, the trio embark on a search for a time-sensitive, hidden treasure while pursued by a relentless, devilish lawman. The film is based on Homer’s 800 B.C. Greek epic poem The Odyssey criss-crossed with southern American religiosity and classic old-timey folk and bluegrass music. So get your Dapper Dan hair grease and join the boys as they try to get out of one tight spot after another in this Coen Brothers’ fan favourite.
Bill and Ted discuss Wes Anderson’s 2004 film “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.” Set against a quirky backdrop populated with colourful characters, the film features Bill Murray as a Jacque Cousteau-esque oceanographer contemplating fatherhood and failure following the death of his long time partner and friend Esteban (Seymour Cassel), who was eaten by the mysterious and possibly nonexistent Jaguar Shark. Ranging from the ridiculous to the sublime, Anderson’s film deals with the nature of perception and its effects on personal insecurities and relationships.
Bill and Ted discuss Frank Capra’s 1944 film “Arsenic and Old Lace” featuring Cary Grant as Mortimer Brewster, a theatre critic who finds unexpected drama of his own tucked away in his aunts’ window seat on Oct 31st in Brooklyn New York when he and his bride come to tell the family the good news of their sudden nuptials. Hoping to quickly skip town for a honeymoon in Niagra Falls, Mortimer and his new wife Elaine (Priscilla Lane) become embroiled in a macabre comedy of errors as Mortimer struggles to contain the situation. This is broad, physical, and at times gallows humour filled with some great performances, even if Grant was unhappy with his own. If you find Capra to be sentimental and overly serious, have no fear; this film is far less sappy and much more on the silly side.
Bill and Ted discuss Martin Scorsese’s 1991 film “Cape Fear,” featuring Robert De Niro as Max Cady, a hardened convict who, after 14 years of incarceration, obsessively seeks revenge on his former defense attorney Sam Bowden, played by Nick Nolte, who failed to keep Cady out of prison. Scorsese ramps up the tension in this remake of Lee Thompson’s 1962 black and white film noir inspired pulp fiction thriller Cape Fear. While he, his wife. and teenage daughter are stalked, threatened, and terrorized, Bowden increasingly faces having to take the law into his own hands.
Bill and Ted discuss Alfred Hitchcock’s 1954 film “Rear Window,” featuring Jimmy Stewart as LB Jefferies a convalescing photo-journalist who can’t recuperate without spying on his neighbours with Grace Kelly as his socialite girlfriend Lisa who gets drawn into a world of intrigue. An intricately crafted claustrophobic mystery thriller about the ethics of surveillance and voyeurism with a plot that hinges on Jefferies’ suspicion that one of neighbours has committed murder. Hitchcock deftly provides tension coming from both inside and outside of Jefferies NYC Greenwich village apartment with the contrasting themes of romance and murder.