Friday, March 11, 2011

Director/Author : The Ninth Configuration

Can a film live up to it's bizarre cover art?  That's the question raised by today's film: The Ninth Configuration.  Before we can really get into the film, let's get everyone's favorite thing out of the way- tedious back-story.  William Peter Blatty got famous for a little book called 'The Exorcist' in the '70s.  In the wake of that, the studio made another film in the series...and a lot of people hated it.  Apparently, Blatty was not a fan either.  This led him to Direct the next two films based on his books.  In case you doubt his reasoning, just note that the only two films that he has ever Directed are this movie and Exorcist 3.  So what is this Golden Globe Award-winning film about?  Well, a bunch of crazy ex-soldiers are left in a castle in the middle of nowhere to get better where they get a new doctor...who may have some secrets of his own.  I'll try not to spoil things too early, but the original story is called 'Twinkle Twinkle, "Killer" Kane!'  William Peter Blatty- Master of spoiling his own work!  The film has a big cast of supporting people that may catch your attention.  Get out your book of obscure terms as we try to decipher...
The film is set in a castle in the middle of nowhere.  How does the United States military own this place?  The movie never explains and doesn't expect you to ask.  This Screenplay won a Golden Globe, so who am I to question this?  They get a new doctor named Kane (Stacy Keach) and the patients don't take it well.  The first half hour to forty-five minutes of the movie is pretty much the guys acting crazy or upset.  Okay then.
We get more craziness and a cameo by both George C. Scott (as an astronaut gone nuts) and Joe Spinell as Lt. Spinell.  Again- this script won a Golden Globe.  Drama comes in when the patients hear rumors about Colonel/Doctor Kane having a dark past.  He lets the patients act out some craziness as a release, so they let it go for a while.  We also get the trippy, dream sequence that inspired the poster.  Interesting context, huh?
Finally, a man from Kane's unit shows up and the truth comes out.  As it turns out, the assisting Doctor was Kane's actual Doctor...and his brother.  That came out of left field, huh?  The lead patient flees the facility and goes to a bar, running afoul of a biker gang led by...Richard Lynch.  Random!  Kane shows up and gets pushed into a fight with the bar.  The pair return to the facility and Kane kills himself, his sacrifice pushing the patient to sanity.  Yeah, you're not a real doctor.  The End.
Who's crazy- me or you?  The plot of this movie is certainly odd, if a bit aimless.  The fact that the film is just made up of so many long, strange scenes says a lot about Blatty's experience as a Director.  Consider that he only made the film to keep the artistic integrity of it intact, that says a lot.  The film is not Directed badly or anything- just lackadaisically.  There is a merit to having impartial people in the Editing and Production process is what I'm saying, really.  The acting here is good, but what do you expect?  The problem here is the pacing is done in a way that a lot of younger moviegoers may not appreciate.  All of the people that expect instant-gratification or simple scenarios may not like this movie.  I would like to see a shortened version of the film available, which would help expand the marketability of the film.  That's nothing against the quality of the original cut, per se, just a cynical look at it.  If you like crazy and plots that don't go where you think that they will, check this one out.  It certainly does crazy right.
Next up, Mondo Bizarro keeps up with the trends and covers a popular film.  This one involves killer birds, solar panels and some of the worst pacing ever.  Stay tuned...

1 comment:

  1. kind of ripped off by shutter island me thinks.