~posted by The Spoiler
The Spoiler returns after the Holiday Season, wondering if it all had something meaningful to impart about the future and our well-being?
With no quick and easy answers available, I decided to work in the opposite direction. What theme could emerge from the random movies I watched in the last month? The pattern revealed itself completely by accident.
The Answer is: NOW. Here are three movies from different eras and genres that feature the present tense in their titles.
Seven Men From Now (1956; directed by Budd Boetticher) is a Randolph Scott Western with a capital “W”. Scott plays a former Sheriff who decides to take the law into his own hands to avenge a wrong that’s been done him. To do this, he must find and kill the seven men who perpetrated the crime and the horrific “killing” in Silver Springs. Lee Marvin plays Scott’s unusual heavy counterpart, Masters; unlike your typical villain, the almost likeable Masters leaves us unsure of his motives until the final confrontation. Scott’s character, Stride, could be read as a precursor to the character Walker that he portrays in the classic Point Blank. Stride’s quest, much like Walker’s, doesn’t seem to hold any satisfaction, as if the quest itself is the goal and in a sense a kind of emotional necessity. This brings into question what his actions in the present will ultimately accomplish and makes us wonder what the future holds after the Now is dealt with. Both movies show how difficult it is to heal the wrongdoings of the past.
The Spectacular Now (2013; directed by James Ponsoldt) is a coming-of-age tale that is carefully situated in that tricky time between the end of high school and the beginning of adulthood/college. Perhaps not as groundbreaking as Boyhood, it nevertheless looks unflinchingly at some harsh truths. It centers around the character of Sutter (Miles Teller), who is by all accounts the most socially successful high school senior. As we gradually are shown the more complex and emotional side of Sutter, we learn his outer bravado is a way to outrun some inner demons. His catalyst for dealing with these is his meeting with Aimee (Shailene Woodley), who is his total opposite—introverted, unassuming, and expecting little from her future. Instead of the past solely haunting Sutter, he is threatened by the future. For Sutter the only comfortable place is the present. But as time passes quickly, his current feeling of Spectacular is about to be blown to pieces. Sutter reaches back into his past to try to find answers, but here again we see that dwelling there seldom brings any comfort. It’s pretty existential material for a so-called teenage film.
Don’t Look Now (1973; directed by Nicholas Roeg) has a new treatment by the Criterion Collection that warrants multiple viewings of this classic, based on original material by Daphne Du Maurier. Both a psychological drama and metaphysical thriller, it seems to defies genres while comfortably residing in several at once. Long before the overtly dramatic and caustic grief of Willem Dafoe and Charlottte Gainsbourg depicted in Lars Van Treer’s Antichrist, Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland play a young couple trying to cope with a fatal accident involving their youngest daughter. The couple embark on a working trip to Venice to try to escape their horrifying present and are met not with glamor or distraction, but instead more reminders of the past. Being met with psychological twists and mediums and visions, the two must rely on each other to try to make sense of their misfortune. The beauty of Venice has never seemed more menacing, with the setting itself acting as an insistent reminder of a watery grave. An extra treat is the heartbreakingly beautiful score by master horror composer Pino Donnagio. Much has been made about the surprise ending, but would I ever divulge such a secret?
Another title that would fit snugly in this group is Now, Voyager. But that will have to wait for another time. Later…. Coming Soon.