Another double feature night from resident Mbird expert, John Stamper:
I’ve never been able to say why I love One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest as much as I do — and I am not sure I can now. Part of has to do with simply extraordinarily truthful acting by a large ensemble of people. See it for Danny Devito — lovely gentle beautiful work, before he learned how to be America’s rude nasty sarcastic midget. But every performance in it is wonderful, especially that of Brad Dourif, who plays man-boy Billy Bibbit.
It’s also a movie about what happens when “the freedom of a Christian” (in a very loose sense) goes up against the crushing power of Pharasaical Law — how this freedom evokes Rage And A Desire To Slay in the ecclesial hierarchy.
I couldn’t figure out why, a few months ago when I was watching Humboldt County (2008), I kept strangely thinking of this old Jack Nicholson movie. And then I realized — golly, that’s Billy Bibbit. Brad Dourif, after a long time in the wilderness, started making a comeback in the last few years, and he’s now appearing in a lot. Like Louise Fletcher, who so definitively created Nurse Ratched, Brad Dourif was so definitively Billy that it was hard I guess for him to get cast as anything else.
Humboldt County is a movie about marijuana. As in a LOT of marijuana. So be forewarned. It’s also a movie, like Cuckoo, about the crushing power of the law (i.e. demand) in human relationships. The movie starts with a father, who’s a professor in a med school, explaining to his student and son: “Well, you’ve just been accepted at the most prestigious residency program in the country. But I’m just so disappointed in your work in my class, I’m going to have to fail you.” (That’s my only spoiler.)
HC, like Cuckoo, is funny, touching, heartbreaking, frightening; and like Brad Dourif’s earlier film, it’s a movie with lovely ensemble acting, including among many the always wonderful Frances Conroy (Ruth Fisher in Six Feet Under).
It’s also a movie about how graceful loving (with a little bit of, um, chemical assistance) is able to birth the very thing that the law destroys.