A Vick’s Picks Retro Cult Review
Wild In The Streets
Since this is an election year it might be time for this one. The headline of the original 1968 movie poster reads “If you’re thirty, you’re through!” Though preposterous, this hippie exploitation film starring Christopher Jones as rock star/ revolutionary Max Frost takes you on a trip of a time. Frost discovers 52% of the nation is under the age of 25 and with some creative counterculture tactics (such as lowering the voting age to 14) he is elected president of the U.S.A. The cast is phenomenal with the likes of Hal Holbrook, Ed Bagley, Richard Pryor and countless celeb cameos. However, Shelley Winters proves she is a camp queen to be reckoned with due to her over-the-top performance as Frost’s crazy while ranting mother. The LSD re-education camp for elders over 35 and the “joint” session of congress will have you howling.
The Tree of Life
A friend of mine described this towering accomplishment from Terrence Malick as “immersing” and I would have to add this visionary journey is at the very least unforgettably transcendent. On its most literal level we watch Jack (Sean Penn as adult) evolve or devolve from his innocent childhood to his confused adult years as he tries to fit together his memories of complicated relationships with his father (Brad Pitt), mother and brothers. The exquisite imagery floating through the arc of the narrative works like an iceberg, suddenly impacting you below your emotional waterline. The poetry on screen either misses you entirely or you recognize your own life experiences and soul stirrings and the processes sparked can be profoundly cosmic and moving. The film is so hypnotic you don’t want to miss a single line or scene and when it ends, you want more.
Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Let me first disclose that I am a fan of these films and we could have an argument which of them gets the honor of being the worst. However, it would not be this one. James Franco is the big pharma scientist working for Gen-Sys and experimenting on lab chimps for a cure to Alzheimer’s. He accelerates things to rescue his father (John Lithgow) from the disease and he also secretly brings home an offspring (Caesar played by Andy Serkis) of one of the destroyed lab chimps. Serkis does a remarkable job of selling us the Caesar character. Sure, you’ll find the usual cautionary tale about experimenting on animals and Frankenstein flirtations with abounding ethics, but the technical wizardry is jaw-dropping. There are many wink-winks to knowing fans but even if this is your first experience with these films, it is a great place to start and there will be more.