February 5, 2004

Viewer Discretion Advised

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In case you haven’t noticed, it’s cold as fuck here. And I don’t just mean it in the “you’re going to catch frost bite” way; but in the Siberian exile, second coming of the Ice Age way. So why not get out of the cold and snuggle up to a warm, happy flick to heal your wind burn? Well, you could. But as I always say, why put a bandage on the wound when you can throw some salt on it? Here are some movies sure to remind you of just how cold and alone we really are.

Winter Light

Ingmar Bergman continually used his medium to examine his own spirituality. Winter Light stands as one of his bleakest works. Set on a cold afternoon, it examines a Lutheran minister (Gunnar Bjornstrand) unable to resurrect his belief in God while he watches his congregation disintegrate. Bergman regular Max Van Sydow appears as a parishioner stricken with fear over the possibility of a nuclear holocaust. With its use of extreme close ups, vast zoom outs, and disparate landscapes, Bergman does not create a familiar earth, but rather a void in which only silence can exist.

The Thing

John Carpenter’s remake of the 1951 classic The Thing from Another World takes us to a research outpost in the tundra of Antarctica. After an ill-fated discovery of a spacecraft frozen in ice, an alien virus is unleashed upon the scientists that can move indiscriminately from one body to the next. The Thing uses its sparse and isolated landscape to amplify the intensity, mixing psychological tension and suspicion with truly gruesome special effects to create a classic film. You may never be able to look at your dog or a man’s chest the same way again.

The Fast Runner

Based on an Inuit legend, this sweeping story, as epic as The Odyssey, goes to the early days of Inuit existence. A young hunter named Antanarjuat falls in love with a woman already promised to another man and spurs a murderous spite within the family of the groom-to-be. Facing this reality, Antanarjuat sets out on a journey across the vast northern regions of Canada to reconcile the deadly feud he caused, one that includes him memorably running in nary but a loincloth through the Arctic. The stark lighting and sweeping panoramas create a truly ethereal environment.

The Edge

This film should be named When Angry Kodiak Bears Attack. Alec Baldwin and Anthony Hopkins play two pampered asswipes who hate each other and are trying to survive in Alaska. However, there are a few complications, like a business rivalry, love for the same woman, and a man-eating bear, making The Edge a sadistic exercise in Darwinist survival. While the film sags under the weight of its bloated themes, the pace is vicious and the cinematography remarkable, with some truly incredible scenes involving the bear. Did I mention that there is a bear? Named Bart?

Archived article by Zach Jones