The Ninth Configuration, 1980 – ★★★★

I’m honestly not sure where to begin with The Ninth Configuration. It’s as though you had Robert Altman directing One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest starring The Marx Brothers and then abruptly switched the last reel to Deer Hunter. Somehow, improbably, it works. It’s cemented by superb performances all around, with Scott Wilson running the gamut from zany to raw, and Stacy Keach giving an incredibly tender and underplayed performance. The themes of faith and damage and mental illness are incredibly raw, and at the same time it’s almost a farce, with the goofball component turned way up. It’s a marvel to behold, and has several very memorable moments in it. 

Whether this is a sequel or spinoff to The Exorcist is debatable, but it’s writer and first time director William Peter Blatty’s assertion that he considers it so, with Scott Wilson’s Cutshaw the astronaut that Regan tells is “going to die up there” in The Exorcist. The notion that this moment, an interaction with a malevolent entity, was enough to send Cutshaw over the edge and have him scrub his moon launch, is incredibly intriguing.

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