“Chasing Trane” & “The Bad Batch”
Chasing Trane follows a linear path from the beginnings of John Coltrane’s career to its spectacular end. All the while, Coltrane’s music, heard constantly over the narration, lifts and elevates the viewer.
In many ways the life of Coltrane mirrors the rise of jazz since WWII. Bebop gives way to experimental and free form styles of jazz. Drugs pop up and are kicked. The exploration of sonic sounds leads to a spiritual awakening. “A Love Supreme” becomes an anthem of purity as well Trane’s most accomplished album release. Coltrane visits the site of an atomic bomb memorial in Japan, which subsequently inspires him to even greater insights.
The talking heads range from McCoy Turner to Carlos Santana to Bill Clinton. Denzel Washington narrates Coltrane’s voice with text taken from his writings and album notes.
Chasing Trane plays at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston this weekend on Saturday June 24 at 7 pm., and Sunday June 25 at 5 pm.
Most post-apocalyptic thrillers paint a bleak picture. The Bad Batch is bleaker than most.
The second feature film from Ana Lily Amirpour immediately gets your attention. In the opening minutes the protag Arlen (Suki Waterhouse) finds herself kidnapped by desert cannibals who chain her up, drug her and saw off one leg and one arm.
Left confined like an animal, Arlen hides a piece of rebar that she uses to overcome one of her captors. A skateboard becomes her vehicle for escape as she literally drags herself through the desert. A mute desert scavenger finds her and delivers Arlen to a desert town of odd and sundry survivors. The makeshift community is like an all year version of Burning Man.
Some cool characters thrive in the unrelenting heat, not the least of which is an at-first-unrecognizable Jim Carrey under layers of clothes and whiskers. Keanu Reeves rocks a 1970s-style ‘stache as the leader of the town looking like the older brother of Paul Rudd’s character in Anchorman.
Perhaps the most conflicted character is only known by his chest tattoo that reads Miami Man. MM leads the cannibal tribe but elicits sympathy when his young daughter is kidnapped by Arlen, who herself has turned into a vengeance machine. Miami Man doesn’t kill people for pleasure but for food for his nuclear unit. MM is tidy, and also has talent as an artist. You almost start to admire his pragmatic stance when he carves up his latest victim and wastes nothing.
The Bad Batch portrays society at its basic survival-of-the-fittest level. What brief rays of hope the characters experience are merely drug visions or the memories of how things used to exist.
The Bad Batch unwinds exclusively at the Alamo Drafthouse Mason Park.