Saturday, September 30

Streamathon - Harry Dean Stanton (October 2017)


Harry Dean Stanton (October 2017)

Preface: This is part of an ongoing blog series of curated movie marathons that are thematically or otherwise tied together. The other common factor tying these films together will be their availability to watch them all from the comfort of your own home on various streaming platforms. The goal is that writing this blog will somehow justify the excessive number of streaming platforms I subscribe to. The films will be found on some combination of Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Mubi, FilmStruck, and/or Fandor. These titles will be available for the month that the blog is published. All of these subscriptions offer free trials so feel free to dive in and follow along… Have fun. Just don’t message me for my login information.

By: Emery Martin-Snyder

Harry Dean Stanton – The cinematic universe lost a true maverick earlier this year. Actor Harry Dean Stanton passed away on September 15th. He was 91 years old. Stanton was probably the most quintessentially hardworking presences ever captured on celluloid. His work has been featured in over 100 films over the past 50 years. After his memorable roll in Ridley Scott’s ALIEN (1979), he started to gain a lot more notoriety. 80’s arthouse and indy filmmakers like Wim Wenders and Alex Cox took notice and gave him leading rolls. Cox’s 1984 punk rock masterpiece REPO MAN is one of the most delightfully weird films of the decade. Unfortunately, that film isn’t currently available to stream from anywhere but I would encourage any budding cinefiles to seek it out.

I decided to write this edition of Streamathon in celebration of his amazing career. I’m also very excited to see his upcoming final film LUCKY, directed by fellow underrated character actor John Carroll Lynch, released September 29th.

The Stream

Directed by Bertrand Tavernier – Streaming on FilmStruck

The title references a television show that is documenting the death of a beautiful, young, but terminally ill woman. Roddy (Harvey Keitel) is the show’s videographer and he shoots it with a special camera system implanted into his brain, unbeknownst to the woman. Stanton is the show’s producer. Ultimately cold and calculating his motivations for TV ratings, he does a great job of understating his Snidely Whiplash like wickedness. At times he even fools the audience.

Directed by Francis Ford Coppola – Streaming on Hulu

This is Coppola’s most stylized film. A box office flop at the time of its release, it is finally seeing something of a cult revival. There’s a good reason for this. The production design and costumes, all shot by master cinematographer Vittorio Storaro and layered on top of original music by Tom Waits, give this film a very unique tone. Stanton’s part, like most in his career, was small and supportive. His hair, on the other hand, is inspiring. I think this is a great example of a Stanton performance because although the material is overwrought and even a little goofy, the earnestness in the cast’s performances keeps the audience engaged.

PARIS, TEXAS (1984) 
Directed by Wim Wenders – Streaming on FilmStruck

You can’t talk about 80’s arthouse cinema without Wim Wenders. Both this film and WINGS OF DESIRE are amazing. This is one of the few examples you will find of Harry Dean Stanton in the lead role. I really can’t say enough good things about this. It’s like the softest of all heartbreaks and Stanton’s performance here is perfect. If you don’t watch anything else from this list, watch this one. It’s at least worth the trial subscription.

TWISTER (1989) 
Directed by Michael Almereyda – Streaming on Amazon Prime Video

Nope, not that one you remember from the 90’s. This one is far more interesting, and weird. Come for the Harry Dean Stanton, stay for Crispin Glover’s very strange performance. Stanton plays the patriarch of a rich and dysfunctional family all stuck together trying to weather out a Kansas storm. Make sure you sit through the credits to hear Crispin Glover’s original music. It’s very bizarre because….why wouldn’t it be?

WISE BLOOD (1979) 
Directed by John Huston – Streaming on FilmStruck

This is another great film with a small but crucial performance from Stanton. This story takes place in a Southern town full of fraudulent street preachers and prophets. A young disillusioned Army Vet shows up full of cynicism and rage. It’s Stanton’s character, snake-oil peddler Asa Hawks, that seems to push our lead finally over the edge. This film has a lot going on. It actually reminds me of Marcello Clerici, the main character from Bernardo Bertolucci’s THE CONFORMIST if he existed in the American South right after WWII.

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