August 18, 2010

Justify My Netflix: Badlands

(Like many Netflix customers, I too can get quite lax with the timely watching and returning of my movies, which of course defeats the entire purpose of having a flat-rate rental plan in the first place. To combat that, I am now writing standardized mini-reviews of each and every movie I end up watching through Netflix, both instantly and on DVD. Don't forget, all previous 'Justify My Netflix' reviews can be found on CCLaP's main movie page.)


Today's movie: Badlands, 1973 (Amazon | IMDB | Netflix | Wikipedia)

Why I added it to my queue: Because this 1973 crime drama is known as one of the classics of the countercultural era, not just an early starring vehicle for both Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek but the debut of revered director Terrence Malick, and one of only a few hundred films that have ever been picked for historical conservation by the Library of Congress.

The reality: Meh. That's right, meh. In fact, I know I'm going to catch a lot of flack for this over at Facebook, but here today just a few weeks after seeing Badlands, I find that I can already remember almost nothing about it, other than that it seemed like a rather generic thriller about two dysfunctional young lovers in the repressed 1950s, who almost randomly seem to turn to violent crime for no other reason than that they're dumb and in love. So then it becomes a very interesting question, of whether my blase reaction is because of this influential film eventually spawning an entire genre of "young lovers on the lam" movies in the 40 years since, dulling the impact it had on original audiences? Or is the movie really just not that good, and was only embraced by early-'70s audiences because they embraced every movie back then featuring graphic violence and a transgressive message, simply because it was the first time in American history that they could do so? That's always the question with trailblazers from the countercultural era, it seems, of how well they stand up to the test of time, versus how much of their initial success was due merely to the shock of the new; and in this case, I hate to say, in my opinion the film doesn't hold up well at all, being in my 2010 eyes essentially a clunky prototype for a story that was honed to a much more precise point in the hundreds of similar tales told in the '80s, '90s and '00s. Like I said, I have a feeling that a lot of people are going to disagree with me on this one, but I have to confess that I myself found Badlands rather underwhelming when all was said and done, and do not recommend it today to a general audience.

Strangest piece of trivia: Spacek met her future husband, Jack Fisk, during this film's production.

Worth your time? Not really

Filed by Jason Pettus at 4:27 PM, August 18, 2010. Filed under: Movies | Reviews |