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 David Fincher’s 1999 film “Fight Club” featuring Edward Norton as an insomniac accountant resentfully living a consumer- driven apathetic life devoid of happiness whose chance meeting with the devil-may-care, philosophizing traveling soap salesman Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) turns his whole world upside down. Adapted from Chuck Palahniuk’s raw nerve of a novel, this movie deftly creates an equally raw and uncompromising existential portrait of a lost and bitter soul struggling against a heartless world desperately seeking to feel something, even if it’s a fist in his face.
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 Bill Melendez’s 1965 film “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” the beloved TV holiday special written by Charles M. Schulz and starring the Peanuts gang featuring the sweetly melancholic jazz score by Vince Guaraldi. Charlie Brown simply wants to know what Christmas is all about. In his search, he encounters pop psychology, sociology, and rampant consumerism at every turn. Melendez’s short film effortlessly cuts through the cultural clutter of the 1960’s bringing Schulz’s Peanuts comic strip to animated life while providing Charlie Brown, and all of us, with the answer he seeks.
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 John Huston’s 1948 film “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre” featuring Humphrey Bogart as an out of work American Fred C. Dobbs who convinces an old prospector (Walter Huston) to help him and a buddy (Tim Holt) mine for gold in the Sierra Madre Mountains of 1920’s Mexico. Huston provides a rich character study of the three central characters as they deal with the dangers of greed and the length people will go to get material riches.
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 Lee Thompson’s 1962 suspense thriller “Cape Fear,” featuring Robert Mitchum as Max Cady a hardened convict seeking revenge on prosecutor Sam Bowden, played by Gregory Peck, who helped send him away to prison for 8 eight years. Tension in this black and white film noir inspired pulp-fiction thriller mounts as Cady threatens Bowden’s wife and teenage daughter as the prosecutor is faced with the prospect of having to take the law into his own hands.
Bill and Ted discuss Christopher Nolan’s 2014 film “Interstellar,” featuring Matthew McConaughey as Joe Cooper a former NASA test pilot and engineer venturing into space to save the world and his family from a worldwide blight-induced famine: Cooper’s odyssey sees him brave relativity, wormholes, a gargantuan black hole and the best and worst aspects of humanity in the darkness of interstellar space. A graceful film full of love and rockets, physics and ghosts, gravity and robots, the 5th dimension and even a sort of time travel co-starring Michael Caine, Anne Hathaway, Casey Affleck, Jessica Chastain, Topher Grace, Ellen Burstyn and a young Timothée Chalamet and Mackenzie Foy.