Its temperatures are hotter, the landscape is more desolate, and the source of discontent is different – but the west Texas of the crime thriller Hell or High Water is a place to which Metro Flint can find kinship.
Instead of our auto-deprived, water-poisoned city, director David Mackenzie’s riveting neo-Western concerns a similarly forsaken area where empty auto factories are supplanted by abandoned farms and, instead of bureaucrats carelessly depriving the unsuspecting of drinkable water, bankers readily foreclose on victims of the housing crash.
Hell or High Water’s land of broken dreams and lost ways of life ought to seem familiar to us, because the mutual sense of desperation is acute. In this nominee for the Best Picture Academy Award, which plays at the Flint Institute of Arts this month in the finale of the museum’s 2016-17 film series, two brothers – played by Chris Pine and Ben Foster – concoct a last-ditch scheme to save their family ranch by robbing small-town banks and outfoxing the greedy money lenders.
The lenders have legal justice on their side, and because one of the lawmen is portrayed by the seemingly ageless Jeff Bridges, the battle figures to be contentious. Things do not go according to plan, and, right down to its final-reel showdown reminiscent of sheriff-versus-outlaw duels of horse-and-wagon days, Hell or High Water does not disappoint. It is one of the best films of 2016, and well worth the Oscar attention it received. (Bridges was individually nominated for his supporting role, while Sons of Anarchy actor Taylor Sheridan supplied the Oscar-finalist screenplay, and both Pine and Foster could’ve been contenders.)
Think Lone Star or No Country for Old Men … or, if you ponder harder, Roger & Me without so much comedy.
The FIA showed Hell or High Water on a weekend in December, but here – as in so many other places – it was under-attended, and it was an easy decision that if the museum was going to cap its season with a “best-of” attraction from recent months, this one would be it. You can see it at the FIA Theatre on June 9-11.
Also slated in the FIA’s Friends of Modern Art series is a fascinating fact-based drama from Denmark, Land of Mine, coming June 1, 2 and 4. A nominee for the most recent Oscar for Best Foreign Language Feature, this is a fictionalization of the stories of young German POWs who, after World War II, are forced to dig up two million land mines on Danish beaches with their bare hands.
The Hollywood Reporter has praised Land of Mine as both “a moving antiwar essay and a gripping thriller.”
FOMA films are shown at 7:30pm Fridays-Saturdays (and on Thursdays, when scheduled) and 2pm Sundays at the FIA, (1120 E. Kearsley St.) Tickets, available at the door, are $4-$6. For more info, visit flintarts.org or call 810.234.1695.
If your tastes tend more toward the fantastic, June is a month for you in commercial theaters. Wonder Woman (June 2), The Mummy (June 9) and Transformers: The Last Knight (June 23) are coming soon, but none of them figures to hit as close to home as Hell or High Water.