Friday, September 20, 2013

The Ninth Configuration

The Ninth Configuration takes place in a giant castle where the US Government is housing an experimental center for crazy war veterans and an astronaut who decided he didn't want to go to the moon so bad that he'd just go crazy instead. You still with me? OK. Stacy Keach shows up without a mustache. We are told he is both the new colonel in charge and an expert psychiatrist. (There's a big twist, so I have to be really careful what I say here.)

The films starts off as a sort of farce, with the inmates of the castle running amok and cracking wise by quoting from old movies. One loon is staging a production of Hamlet using only dogs. One guy with multiple personalities thinks he can rearrange his own molecules to walk through walls, and when this fails, he punishes the walls with a hammer. A guy does some black face song and dance number. The astronaut says a bunch of crazy but possibly really meaningful stuff to Keach. Keach sits by passively, listening and generally managing to sooth the savage lunatics that continually assail him.

That's when Keach becomes a Nazi. Not literally, he just puts on the uniform of an SS officer in order to allow the crazies to play The Great Escape. See, he has this crazy idea that letting people act crazy makes them less crazy. This somehow relates to Hamlet. But not really. Stuff gets really wild and seems to be working. Until the astronaut goes AWOL and winds up in a dive bar full of angry bikers.
This movie contains one of the most satisfying bar fights you will ever see. I can't give away too much of what goes down, but the lead biker has a scarf tied tightly around his neck, so you know this has to be good.

All in all, this movie has some brilliantly philosophical moments right alongside some ludicrous hijinks. If that doesn't sound good, then get your ears checked.


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