Saturday, May 11, 2013

Badlands at Film Forum

Now showing at Film Forum is Badlands, Terrence Malick's first film. The slow shots of grasses flowing in the breeze, the sometimes enigmatic dialogue, the preoccupation with the way misunderstandings both fuel and destroy relationships, the difficulties of finding transcendence in the ordinary --- the markers of his later work are all here, in the story of a young man who looks like James Dean (Martin Sheen) and his girl (Sissy Spacek). As the poster says, she watches while he kills a lot of people. What the poster doesn't say is that she narrates their exploits, naively romanticizing their life together, nor does it mention the way in which Malick prefigures so much of what would transpire in cinema in the years since Badlands was made, from the use of source music to underscore irony to the belief that boredom is the dominant feeling of the modern age.

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