directed by Terence Malick
Terence Malick, the reclusive and mysterious director responsible for some of the most beautiful films of his generation, gave the world Badlands in 1973. The early 1970s were an exciting time for independent cinema, the time of Two-Lane Blacktop and Vanishing Point, Easy Rider and Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song, and Malick’s film percolates with an internal energy that occasionally overflows. Martin Sheen is perfect as Kit, the James Dean idolizing misfit who finds his true love in the form of a girl named Holly, played by a truly lovely Sissy Spacek, and the pair embark on the kind of killing spree befitting such a lunatic love. Malick finds, as he does with all his films, a quiet and cripplingly melancholic core inside us all, a core we hope we never discover but feel certain of its existence, nonetheless. In Badlands, we see a budding genius already dead certain of what he wants his work to represent, not unlike a young Jack White who, even in his early Upholsterers days sounded steadfast in his musical vision. Some artists need to grow, to develop, like Radiohead or Peter Jackson, and some just know. The beautifully unprolific Malick is set to release a new film this year, and frankly, I am like a kid near Christmas.
Note: I still think that, in Malick’s hands, Cormac McCarthy’s The Road would have been a monumental filmic achievement. This is not a slap in the face to Mr. John Hillcoat, of course, for his film was incredible, but I just remember reading that book for the first time and feeling that certainty in my gut that, if it were to be a film, Malick would make it a wretchedly beautiful wonder to behold.