From DAYS OF HEAVEN to COLD IN JULY, Aaron and David checked out six Shepard movies to discuss his contribution to cinema.
While the two of us watched whatever we could get our hands on, our goal is to always watch three of the same films together in order to create a deeper discussion. Check out our complete LETTERBOXD for everything that we watched as well as our pick for the Must-See Sam Shepard movie.
We first watched Shepard's feature film debut in Terrence Mallick's DAYS OF HEAVEN (1978). This is the movie in which Mallick and cinematographer Nestor Almendros practically invent the "magic hour shot". That brief moment right before the sun sets over the horizon. The soft, soothing colors create a beautiful, romantic and almost dreamlike state that fully embrace Mallick's poetic storytelling. DAYS OF HEAVEN is the story of young, handsome Richard Gere attempting to swindle young, handsome Sam Shepard out of his entire fortune. Brooke Adams is the linchpin in this long con by courting him all the way to his deathbed... or does she? It's narrator is the young, naive Linda who's point of view seems distanced and unaware of everything that is going on. It's a deep south fairy tale set across the background of a still youthful America.
Next on our list was the Sam Shepard penned PARIS, TEXAS (1984). This Palme d'Or winner was a perfect marriage between Shepard's words and Wim Wender's continuing work with cinematographer Robby Müller. Shepard didn't feel he was right for the role but instead coerced Harry Dean Stanton to take the lead. The simplified storytelling structure enabled one of Hollywood's most prolific character actors the leading role of a lifetime. Stanton's Travis emotes broken and damaged better than any living actor. While Nastassja Kinski's Jane presents a stark contrast as she evenly balances strength and frailty at any given moment. It's a journey that takes Travis on a quest of being lost, becoming found, and finding redemption.
Our final film is one of Shepard's more recent films in Jim Mickle's COLD IN JULY (2014). An unassuming revenge thriller that soon twists and turns into a much more intricate story. Mickle presents us with a southern noir, airport novela steeped in deceit, deception, and sex. What it has in story is only enhanced by a near perfect trifecta from Michael C. Hall, Sam Shepard, and Don Johnson. It's an expertly paced thriller that creates an excitement to look out for any future work coming from Mickle.
Check us out on LETTERBOXD for our complete Watchlist.