Wise Blood (1979)
April 3, 2018 4:59 PM - Subscribe

A Southerner--young, poor, ambitious but uneducated--determines to become something in the world. He decides that the best way to do that is to become a preacher and start up his own church.

This and Treasure of the Sierra Madre I got from The Melvins's appearance on Amoeba's What's In My Bag?. As good a motivation as any.

If you can't quite place the blond guy, he was Billy the Kid in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure.
posted by rhizome (6 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I love this movie. John Huston filmed it with the hunger and ingenuity of a young 70s indie director and the wisdom of a Hollywood legend. And the locations are grimy and perfect.

Every once in a while, over the course of a conversation about something like Deadwood or One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, a friend will say how great Brad Dourif was in those supporting roles and they wish there was something else to see him in outside of a murderous doll. And I tell them, I have sone very good news for you: Wise Blood.
posted by chimpsonfilm at 6:27 PM on April 3, 2018 [3 favorites]

I've never read her, but now I'm kind of afraid of Flannery O'Connor. This movie is so extremely Southern, and not just the...language.
posted by rhizome at 6:46 PM on April 3, 2018

This movie just blew me away the first time I saw it, at university in like '87. One of a few films that I love but haven't seen very often because it's so intense that I have to be in a specific mood to watch it.

I'm kind of afraid of Flannery O'Connor.

You kinda should be afraid of O'Connor, but in, like, a good way. For decades she's been my go-to where if someone starts up with some nonsense about "women writers can't/don't/won't blah blah blah" I just go, "Flannery O'Connor." IMO one of the best American writers, let alone "Southern" writers.
posted by soundguy99 at 7:14 AM on April 4, 2018 [5 favorites]

This movie is also the source of the "god damned preacher" dialogue bit towards the end of the Ministry song "Psalm 69."
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 9:41 AM on April 4, 2018 [3 favorites]

You kinda should be afraid of O'Connor, but in, like, a good way.

Absolutely! I can't say this was the "weirdest" or "freakiest" movie I've seen in a long time, because that kind of undersells or euphemizes it, but the intensity was truly surprising. The tortured metaphor that comes to mind is that this movie is "metal" in its way, but that just emphasizes that I don't have the words to describe it.

I imagine there's just a lot of Southern Gothic tropes I don't know, and any that I did know from McCullers and Streetcar are turned up to 11 (or 25) here, but usually when Southern themes are accentuated it's just ha-ha crackersploitation.
posted by rhizome at 11:18 AM on April 4, 2018

Just saw this as one of my last ditch Filmstruck watches and boy is it an amazing movie. I'm not sure that it all works but I'm blown away that John Huston could make a film this odd and personal in the last decade of his very long career. This does not seem like something that someone who was forty years into his filmmaking career would make.

The pacing is a little off and the ending seems more than a little abrupt but the acting is great and the cast is perfect. It's interesting too that it was obviously meant to be set in the late forties or early fifties but I think that Huston couldn't afford to do a period picture so he set it in what was the contemporary '70s but with the Hazel character looking and acting like he was still in the 1950s.
posted by octothorpe at 6:41 PM on November 14, 2018 [1 favorite]

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