Saturday, January 07, 2006

Don't drink the Kool-Aid!

The recent misadventures of our good pal Pat Robertson and the randy Rev. Lonnie in the OKC got me thinking about movie pastors. So here's the top 5 creepiest men of the cloth (I sure I've overlooked some):

5. "The Ice Storm." What made that movie so good was the way it captured the feel-good 1970s, the day of the Jesus freak hippie. Back then, Christ was a pretty nonjudgmental, happening dude, at least as interpreted by the minister in Ang Lee's best to date (I'm finally checking out "Brokeback Mountain" tonight). This guy tries to seduce a married woman before being shamed out of a "key party." Hey man, Christians have penises, too.

4. "Elmer Gantry" A salesman sells religion, and profits greatly. How prescient. Great performances by Burt Lancaster and Mrs. Partridge, Shirley Jones.

3. "The Apostle." Pastor Sonny is actually an admirable figure, save for a pretty fierce violent streak. No one channels the South better than Robert Duvall. There's nothing phony in his performance, and that's saying a lot, considering how often movies get the South wrong. Think Kevin Costner in "JFK." Duvall is a genius, in my book, or at least the best damn mimic in Hollywood.

2. "Guyana Tragedy: The Story of Jim Jones." A standout for one reason: Powers Boothe. I'm a big fan of the veteran character actor, who seemingly inhabited the skin of cult leader Jim Jones, architect of the mass suicide in an African commune that killed 914 people. In an aside, Boothe also qualifies as the strangest cameo in movie history. He showed up, for about two minutes, in the screamingly funny Al Pacino flick, "Cruising," as a clerk in a gay head shop: "The yellow bandana means you dig watersports."

1. "Night of the Hunter." Great direction, great acting, great script and Robert Mitchum in his prime. One of the darker films ever made. And one of the best.

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