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Movie Blog: Primal Screams In ’50/50,’ ‘Preacher’

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Have you ever had one of those days where you just want to scream from the depths of your soul?

Well, there are two movies for you opening this weekend that offer to do your screaming for you, though on the surface, they are united only by their focus on male characters in a state of transition.

50/50 stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a professional young man who, seemingly in the prime of his life, is cut down by a grim diagnosis. He has cancer, and it’s a particularly aggressive strain. (The title gives you the skinny.)

On the flip side, Machine Gun Preacher finds its real-life protagonist Sam Childers (a former Minnesotan) at a similar crossroads, only his trajectory sees him on the up-and-up after years killing himself the slow, fun way: with sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll.

Both movies chart their devolution/ascendance to the next phase, and so it’s odd to consider that their overall tone is discordant with their varying directions.

In other words, the movie featuring a fresh-faced twentysomething facing down his own mortality is actually frequently light and comedic, no more so than when Seth Rogan turns up as Gordon-Levitt’s crude friend trying to put a happy face on a dire situation.

And the “getting right with God” melodrama Preacher often gets mired in the endless night of Sudan’s civil war.

To be honest, neither movie ultimately capitalizes on their potential, but 50/50 at least winds up drawing satisfyingly cathartic tears along the way, whereas Preacher brutalizes its viewers early and often.

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Still, if you feel like screaming because the movie you’re watching puts you a the nexus of pain and pleasure, well, I suggest you head over to St. Anthony Main, where you can catch Film Socialisme, the latest impenetrable movie from agit-art raconteur Jean-Luc Godard.

Words don’t usually do justice to the experience of being subjected to a latter-day Godard film (unless we’re talking about the words he superimposes over his images, often for maximum cognitive dissonance). So just take in the trailer and take a chance on your ability to withstand headaches.

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