Tag Archive: Starman


midnight-special-cast

Review by C.J. Bunce

Close Encounters of the Third Kind.  E.T., The Extra-Terrestrial.  The Green Mile. Escape to Witch Mountain.  Watcher in the Woods.  Maggie.  Super 8.  The Omen.  D.A.R.Y.L.  A Perfect World.  Starman.  Michael.  Tomorrowland.  The Day the Earth Stood Still.  The Blues Brothers.  The Twilight Zone Movie.  What could these all possibly have in common?  Somehow they are all conjured up together into this year’s release, Midnight Special.

Let’s get the only problem with Midnight Special out of the way first.  It had an inexplicable limited release this past March.  And its theatrical and television trailer was creepy cool, but too cryptic to draw in the masses.  If you don’t tell people what your movie is about, they won’t always take the time to learn more and decide to see it.  And what a loss!  Midnight Special is not only one of the year’s best films, it’s one of the best films of the decade.

You will think about The Twilight Zone episode “It’s a Good Life,” but it’s nothing like it.  You will think about Haven and Grimm, but it’s not like that either.  And you may even accuse Stranger Things of being a knockoff of this film.  But it’s very, very different.

adam-driver-in-midnight-special

A father and his old friend kidnap his son from a religious cult, with the government in hot pursuit for very different reasons, drawn in by the son’s mysterious abilities.  Is some messianic end looming ahead?  Why is the government justified in tracking the father down for treason?  Replace the enchantment and wonder you’d find in Spielberg’s Close Encounters and E.T. with a combination of mystery, curiosity, and heart-pounding dread.  Gripping, personal, riveting–Midnight Special will keep you guessing until the end.  What happened to this kid?  Why does he have these powers?  What ends will his father and his friend go to protect him from what seems like the entire world crashing down on them? 

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Lost Themes cd Carpenter

Forty seconds into “Vortex,” the opening track on John Carpenter’s new album Lost Themes, and you’re already caught up in a 1980s thriller.  You don’t know for certain who is doing the chasing and who is being chased, but you get the feeling you are the one running.  Are you Roddy Piper in They Live?  Stevie Wayne in The Fog?  Jack Crow in Vampires?

Carpenter, known for composing 16 of the soundtracks for major films he directed, has released his first solo album, on the Sacred Bones Records label, full of tracks that could be scores for future–or lost–films, films only Carpenter could make.

You’re dropped into what could only be the aftermath of Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness with the second track, “Obsidian.”  There, behind the old tenement.  Jameson Parker’s Brian Marsh awakens from a dream in the alley.  His girlfriend is back and this time she made her way through the portal of green goo into our time.  Again, it’s time to run.  And then there’s a shift.  In fact, in 8 minutes an entire story plays out.  Carpenter’s trademark pulsating synthesizer rampage and unapologetic steely trumpet solo is cheering on our hero in an honest to goodness rock ‘n’ roll hero anthem.

Prince of Darkness clip

We get some relief in “Fallen.”  Maybe Karen Allen’s Jenny Hayden is helping our lost friend as he returns from afar in a lost soundtrack to Starman?  Maybe it’s the return of The Thing or the theme of the ice cream man in Assault on Precinct 13.  Whichever, Carpenter knows the soundtrack of someone strange amongst us.  Think classic 1950s sci-fi meets the 1980s.

Halloween screencap

You can’t help but get that hollow feeling at the opening of the next track, “Domain.”  Uncertainty?  Maybe.  But it’s a trick, juxtaposed against something.  Someone hopeful, someone optimistic leads the way this time, almost in a Sam Jones Flash Gordon sci-fi/fantasy montage, replacing Eddie Mercury with our eminent director composer.  The themes here are new for Carpenter, no Snake Plissken, no Jack Burton.  This is an entirely new sound and perhaps the unmade movie he makes us want to see the most.

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