Cinemarch Madness: Demme Division
The Demme Division presents a by-now-familiar Cinemarch Madness dilemma: what's your third vote? The Deer Hunter is so challenging, so visually dark it seems to have been filmed from inside a keg, Walken's face so hollowed out of humanity that it's a shoo-in — and I know I've told this story before, but a movie that you can rent from the video store with the two tapes in the wrong order, watch it that way, and still get knocked out by it is a serious contender. Million Dollar Baby is not exactly depressing, just sad and frustrating — not to mention manipulative, but the manipulation is successful. It got so many name-checks during the nominations that it should proceed easily. (The lack of hyphen notwithstanding.)
So what's your third? We have a number of novel/play adaptations here that didn't work as well for me onscreen; Bridge to Terabithia is a very good rendering, but certain associations I have with the book from childhood mean that bringing it out of my imagination would never quite work. Spacek's performance in 'night, Mother is way too hectic. Beloved…I mean, what do I know, but my feeling is that Morrison's prose is too much itself ever to quite catch fire the same way in another medium. It's like a river stone outside the river, not shiny and perfect anymore. Add to that that I don't think this is her best book, or even close…it's not for me.
The Wind That Shakes the Barley got a lot of noms as well, so that could get to the semis, but I'm going with Deer Hunter plus two docs: The Bridge and The Brandon Teena Story. I highly recommend both, but neither is for babies, that's for sure; you can read more about The Bridge (and comments from one of the subjects' parents) right here, but…you know. It's people jumping to their deaths. It has an elegiac beauty, and it'll have you smiling and saying "have a nice day" as a prophylactic measure for weeks (if you've seen it, you know what I mean), but it's stern stuff.
The Brandon Teena Story is the real-life Boys Don't Cry, and it's a tough sit. I made the Biscuit go see it back in the day and when the lights came up, we just sat there for about five minutes, and then he made a joke about pull-quotes on the poster chirping, "A defeat of the human spirit!" Not a joke, really, though. We had physical difficulty leaving the theater and going back out into a world where that had happened. Teena/Brandon's hard head and iron spine are amazing; you almost still think it's going to turn out okay, because s/he's awesome, and then s/he's pulverized by reality, and that ferrety little fuck Tom Nissen, you can't even. Vile — but fascinating.
But it's Hunter, Baby, and probably Wind. To the polls!
Demme Division: Vote for the THREE (3) harshest films.
- The Deer Hunter (56%, 119 Votes)
- The Brandon Teena Story (56%, 118 Votes)
- The Magdalene Sisters (25%, 52 Votes)
- Million Dollar Baby (24%, 51 Votes)
- The Bridge (22%, 47 Votes)
- Bridge to Terabithia (22%, 47 Votes)
- The Wind That Shakes the Barley (15%, 31 Votes)
- Night, Mother (14%, 30 Votes)
- Beloved (11%, 24 Votes)
- The Days of Wine and Roses (10%, 22 Votes)
- The Proposition (3%, 6 Votes)
- Men with Guns (2%, 5 Votes)
- Romero (2%, 4 Votes)
- The Things I Cannot Change (1%, 2 Votes)
- Shanghai Gesture (0%, 0 Votes)
Total Voters: 212
edited for more inclusive pronounage
Tags: 'night Mother Beloved Bridge to Terabithia Christopher Walken Cinemarch Madness Jonathan Demme Million Dollar Baby movies Sissy Spacek The Brandon Teena Story The Bridge The Deer Hunter The Wind That Shakes The Barley Toni Morrison