The Turning

Writers and artists generally have the privilege of destroying their early formative work, sparing the world their inferior juvenilia, and themselves the accompanying embarrassment. Actors usually don't have the same privilege, and work such as Kevin Costner's debut performance in Sizzle Beach U.S.A.—which would otherwise be lost to oblivion—often gets a second, undeserved life. When nude scenes are involved, things get even more complicated, with titles getting rushed out, invariably wrapped in leering, suggestive covers to take advantage of an actor or actress' newfound fame. Such is the case with The Turning, the film debut of a pre-X-Files Gillian Anderson, fine in an inconsequential role. An unconvincing melodrama about the return of a dangerous former neo-Nazi (Michael Dolan) to his hometown, The Turning is seeing the light only because of one brief love scene featuring Anderson, much tamer than the video box's lurid cover would suggest. Otherwise, it simply offers more proof, especially from Dolan, that most actors' notion of a Southern accent sounds like a third-rate George "Goober" Lindsey impersonation. Coincidentally, The Rapture—an early, much better film featuring Anderson co-star David Duchovny and concerning another faction of the radical right—also sees re-release, in widescreen format, this month. Written and directed by Michael Tolkin (screenwriter for Deep Cover and The Player), The Rapture is a look at contemporary spirituality that takes the tenets of radical fundamentalist Christianity seriously. Mimi Rogers plays a hedonistic phone operator who, along with husband Duchovny, joins an apocalyptic evangelical sect. When Duchovny is killed, Rogers takes her daughter to the desert to wait for the end of the world herself. It's an odd, uneven, and not always believable movie, though expecting believability of any film that ends with a full-scale apocalypse straight out of a lunatic interpretation of the book of Revelations is probably not a good idea. The Rapture is nonetheless a haunting film that, by taking literally those who would take the Bible literally, exposes the views of the religious right for what they really are. Cheap thrills are easy to come by, but it's films like The Rapture that are really worth seeking out.

More DVD Review