Badlands (Terrence Malick, 1973)
My Sissy Spacek mini-festival continues with Malick's debut film, featuring Spacek as a naive South Dakota teenager who hooks up with an older man and follows him on a killing spree. It's based on a true story, and has to be the most strangely unsentimental portrait of a serial killer I've ever seen. Martin Sheen is great as Spacek's boyfriend, who must be a psychopath thanks to all the murders he commits, but otherwise comes off as a very friendly guy and incredibly devoted boyfriend. This is the opposite of a film like Natural Born Killers, with its showy, distracting style, cynical killers and glorification of violence. Malick shoots the northern plains of the U.S. in a stark, simple (but affecting) style, and keeps everything incredibly low-key, even as the bodies mount. I wasn't quite sure what to make of this film while watching it, but the more I think about it, the more I find it interesting.