Places in the Heart

The first of three films in a three month span that all featured a “Save the Farm” theme. This is the picture that resulted in a thousand Sally Field jokes for her Academy Award acceptance speech and it introduced us to John Malkovich who has been a welcome presence in films now for the last thirty years. This was the only one of the three to get a best picture nomination although the lead actress in all three of the farm movies was nominated for her performance. Politics may have played a part since economic issues concerning the farm industry were widely discussed in the election year, and just a couple of years later, John Mellancamp and Willie Nelson started the “Farm Aid” project.


There are a dozen other supporting players in the film who will also become familiar or were already well known in supporting roles as well. The movie is a loosely structured series of tableau focusing on the lives of two sisters in rural Texas in 1935. The leading characters could all be representations of some of my own family members since my wife’s parents grew up in just such places. Her folks would have been about the age of Sally Fields two children in the movie. Like my belief that “Racing with the Moon” was probably a pretty accurate depiction of my parents as teens, this film feels very true to the depression dominated times in rural America.

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Our science fiction movie opens with an ominous musical cue and a shot of an ice cave, in light and shadow with the blue tint of the ice popping out dramatically. A helicopter appears and lands to pick up something found in the ice. It is a large block of ice that is then transported to a remote, arctic station, inhabited by scientists.  You could easily infer from this description that you are watching “John Carpenter’s The Thing”. Let’s face it, that is very close to the set up of the action in the earlier movie. This movie however has no real horror elements to it, a much more plausible scientific premise and a cast that includes a lot of fine actors but none as great as Kurt Russell. This movie comes two years after “The Thing” and is a serious eco-drama that has science fiction elements but really wants to comment on the world we live in today.

icemanA largely forgotten film from 1984, “Iceman” stars Timothy Hutton and John Lone as a pair of lost souls who end up helping each other to understand themselves a little bit better.

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