Days of Heaven
When film geeks talk about writer/director Terrence Malick and glaze over with awe, the Oscar-winning look of his second film, 1978's Days of Heaven is one of the things that slackens their jaws. Malick had cinematographer Nestor Almendros (with help from an uncredited Haskell Wexler) shoot Days almost entirely during the "magic hour" between sunset and full dark, and the result is not so much a traditional movie as a procession of gorgeously bleak, perfectly composed paintings of light and color. The people who move through Days' early-20th-century Texas Panhandle are equally striking. The easy-on-the-eyes Richard Gere and Brooke Adams play Bill and Abby, an impoverished (and unmarried) Chicago couple posing as siblings as they and a young girl named Linda (Linda Manz, who narrates) look for work in the Lone Star State. Abby catches the eye of a rich farmer (a studly young Sam Shepard) who persuades the trio to stay on after their work at his place is done. When the farmer is revealed to be seriously illand proposes to Abbyhard choices must be made. Even Malick's admirers would never claim that plot or pacing is his forte, but if you can sit still for Days of Heaven's oblique narrative and sometimes maddeningly taciturn dialogue, you'll experience one of cinema's richest pieces of eye candy.