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 John Milius’ 1982 film “Conan the Barbarian” drawn from the sword-and-sorcery pulp fiction writings of Robert E. Howard featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger as Conan, a gladiator bent on finding the warlord wizard Thalsu Doom (James Earl Jones) who killed his family. With a phenomenal score by composer Basil Poledouris, Milius brings to the big screen a pre-historical world of high adventure. This is a seminal film that paved the way for an ever-expanding genre.
Bill and Ted discuss Marc Forster’s 2006 film “Stranger Than Fiction” featuring Will Ferrell as Harold Crick an IRS agent who becomes concerned after hearing the voice narrating his life say, “Little did he know that this simple, seemingly innocuous act would result in his imminent death.” With the help of literary professor Jules Hilbert (Dustin Hoffman), Crick works to find the narrator before it’s too late. This absurd light and surrealist comedy delves into life, love and self-sacrifice with strong supporting performances from Emma Thompson and Maggie Gyllenhaal.
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 Joel Zwick’s 2002 film “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” written by and starring Nia Vardalos as Toula a Greek woman who falls in love with a non-Greek man, Ian played by John Corbett, prompting her to come to terms her Greek heritage and identity while integrating him into her family. With a great supporting cast including SCTV’s Andrea Martin and *NSYNC’s Joey Fatone “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” is a simple easygoing romantic comedy for everyone with a big heart, as funny as it is warm charming.
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.