Thursday, March 19, 2009

Movies I Love: Powder

Now before you say anything, yes I am well aware of the somewhat unsavory history of director Victor Salva and how after his jailtime was served his movie directing career has pretty much been shoved down a toilet that flushes acid on it, or whatever other metaphors you can come up with for the Jeepers Creepers movies. And yes I know many people dismiss his work because of the controversy around him and his past, but I have to tell you, for each person that does that, you are missing out on one of the greatest movies ever made. I'm not saying that as a fan, I'm saying that as a man thats spent almost all of his 31 years studying film. The nature of the film, the characters and the casting of pre-boondock saints (yes its on my list too!) Sean Patrick Flanery in the lead role, the make up, the imagery, the minimal use of special effects to tell a sci fi story, all of it... Its just so amazing.

For those of you that haven't heard of, never saw, or were boycotting Powder, let me kick some plot knowledge your way, so you have an idea of what you've been missing.

Powder is the story of Jeremy Reed, a teenager who's mother, while pregnant with him is struck by lightening, being in her later months induces labor, she dies shortly after giving birth to Jeremy. Apon seeing that his wife's dead and his newborn son will be an albino, Jeremy's father leaves him at the hospital, the boy is left in the care of his mother's parents, who raise him on their old farm on the outside of town, his grandmother home schools him as to keep him from having to be put though the horrible teasing that smalltown people can give someone who's different from them in any way. infact until his grandfather's death of a heart attack, no one knew that Jeremy was even alive and living there. Until he called for help explaining his grandfather had just died. This leads to a local police investigation too find out what happened, leading to the discovery of Jeremy. This leads to the first meeting with Jessie Caldwell, a social services worker who is the first to see one of the many amazing things Jeremy can do, she picks up one of the books that are on the many shelves in the basement that is Jeremy's home, she asks him if he's read them all, he says "pick one at random then give me a page.." she does so and Jeremy demonstrates for her that he has every book completely memorized to the point he knows each page word for word.

Not wondering if there was a reason for Jeremy's living unknown and undiscovered for all of his life, the local sheriff and Jessie put him in the care of a local group home and enroll him in high school. Much as Jeremy's grandparents feared he is teased and tormented horribly for being different from the rest of the kids there, apparently none of the people involved in this case actually stopped and thought the idea of dropped a very strange and physically different child into the horrors of an american smalltown high school would be a bad idea. While at school Jeremy meets Donald Ripley, a science teacher who discovers accidentally through the use of a machine somewhat like a Tesla Coil Jeremy is literally a magnet for electricity, the machine's electric current literally shoots across the room and knocks Jeremy out of his seat and holds him in the air as it just seems to dump 1000s of volts into him, much to the shock of Ripley and the other students. This causes Ripley to want to do more tests, and all but one of the children to shun Jeremy more then they were before, thus making him even more of an outcast. "They call me Powder" he said explaining to Jessie why he wanted to go home and be left alone.

Ripley's tests came back, and not only does he discover that Jeremy's I.Q is off the scale, he also has a number of amazingly unique abilities that no other human has. Not only can he attract lightening and electricity, but he can discharge it too, infact they discover that was what happened to his grandfather, he was trying to save his life, using his hands to shock him back to life, he also is found to have telekinetic powers, later on we discover other powers of his; telepathy, empathy, physics, and the ability to make one feel the feelings of others be it human or animal. Jeremy continues to state he just wants to go home and be left alone, that he can't stand the other children teasing him and keeps repeating himself of how he just wants to be left alone and wants to go home. And ofcourse, they just see it as normal teenage social problems, because well, lets face it, people are stupid that way.

While at school Jeremy meets Lindsey Kelloway, a beautiful redheaded girl who seems fixated on him, she befriends him and he can tell through his empathic ability she has feelings for him "I think you are the most beautiful thing i've ever seen" she says to him. They spend alot of time talking, Jeremy explains to her that all humans are connected, "they can't feel it.. but we all are.. every single one of us the world over, we're all connected.. most just don't know how to access it.." he says to her before her father, being the typical scared smalltown person he is, drags her away from him and demands she never see him again, because you know thats just how southerners roll. With his only friend, and the only woman thats ever even noticed him for who he is gone, the tormenting gets worse for Jeremy and yet still he's not allowed to just go home and live in peace.

On a mandatory outing to the woods things get worse, Jeremy wanders off from the sheriff and the main group and discovers the bullies who spend their time tormenting him out in the woods with the chief deputy and some hunting riffles he's brought with him. The deputy who's always had a dislike of Jeremy tells him to go back to the group and not tell anyone what he's seen "or things will just get worse" and states "no one would believe a freak like you over me anyway.". One of the bullies aims a gun at Jeremy who stands there unscared as the boy threatens him, claiming he doesn't like his eyes, because they don't show any fear and look right through him, as his friend tries to get him to put the gun down he yells "go suck off your old man, I'm tired of this freak!" at this point a gunshot is heard in the background which not only sends them running to look, but also leads to the most unsettling scene in the whole movie. As the boys and the Deputy huddle around a deer that lays dying with a bullet through its neck and is slowly bleeding to death, as the deputy is explaining how it wasn't a clean kill and that you would have to snap the neck of one like this if you did it on your own. Jeremy walks up through the group with a strange look in his eyes, he puts one hand on the deer and starts to cry, as he does, he grabs the deputy's arm and transfers not only the deer's entire life worth of memories into him bt also the pain its feeling in its last moments alive, he holds him there connected to the deer until it dies. The Depty jumps back and recoiling in fear runs off screaming, the bullies follow him, leaving Jeremy there to comfort the dead deer and the woodland creatures around him. The Sheriff later states "I don't know what you did to him, but my best deputy went home and sold all his guns and refuses to carry one or go on patrol anymore.." in reference to what happened.

The rest of the movie is more of the same until one of the bullies is hit by lightening and Jeremy, regardless of how they treat him, brings the boy back to life, Jeremy finally leaves seeing as even though he showed the boy that tormented him the most kindness by saving his life when he really didn't have too, it wouldn't stop them all from looking at him like he was a freak and shun him for being different. The movie ends with a very meaningful speech about how the world doesn't really know what a real gift from god is, and when they see it all they want to do is study it like a labrat or shun it for being unlike their kind. Jeremy runs off into a field on the side of his family home and with a light rain coming down and a loud roar of thunder and a flash of lightening striking him, Jeremy is gone. the flash of light he disappears in spreads out like a shockwave and as it passes through the three people there who tried to talk him into staying in town, the Sheriff, Jessie and Ripley, they feel a strange sense of peace and joy, as if Jeremy has left a part of himself in them, and I'd assume anyone that shockwave hits.

I know to many this movie was seen as sort of a sci fi jesus alagory as to state if Christ were to be alive today he would be shunned and mistreated and feared for being different, but it goes beyond that. It becomes a movie about how we need to become more connected to each other, and how we need not fear things that are different then us, because we never know just how much we are missing. its a great message that you need to kind of sit down and think about as you watch the film and abit after.

So if you want something enlightening, with an excellent cast of at the time mostly unknowns and hasbeens just doing an amazing job at bringing this gem to life, you really must see it. You really won't be let down.

and if you need more convincing... the deer scene...



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