Making shit happen just by thinking about it. Movies featuring telekinetic powers bring us back to the time before we were able to distinguish our wishes from our reality.
Hollywood’s psychics are usually on the run (The Power, Scanners, The Fury) from the government that either gave them their extraordinary abilities or just want to exploit them. Paul McGuigan’s imminent Push sticks with this scenario, with Dakota Fanning and Chris Evans as two of a group of ex-pat American super-psychics trying to hide from the government in Asia. But since that’s not out for another week in the States, let’s see what, if anything, we’ve learnt from psychic-superfeuds in previous films…
Challenge your parents’ authority. (Carrie, 1976)
Mum doesn’t always know best, as Piper Laurie discovered too late in Brian De Palma’s Stephen King psych-out. If you are going to argue with someone who has telekinetic powers, choose a room full of very soft furnishings and don’t forget to open the windows first.
Wreck the place from the comfort of your armchair. (Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones, 2002)
And here we are on the flip-side of the very constructive x-wing extraction in The Empire Strikes Back (1980), back when Yoda was funny and convincing as a character, if not necessarily as a figure. Here CGI-Yoda warms up for an eye-boggling swordfight with a 6′ 5″ octogenarian by indulging in some telekinetic rubble-rousing.Make your opponent’s head explode. (Scanners, 1981)
Louis Del Grande unwisely takes on self-lobotomised hard-man Michael Ironside in a bout of telepathic arm-wrestling in the David Cronenberg splat-classic. Misjudging your opponent is inadvisable in psycho-sports. You could end up with egg on your face, and your face on the wall. This is not a legal move in chess.
Bring down a 747 to illustrate a point. (The Medusa Touch, 1978)
Richard Burton only did a few days’ work to earn his top-credit in this daft but enjoyable euro-pudding. Most of the time the incorrigible old boozer was actually some unrecognisable fellow wrapped up in bandages in a hospital bed. However The Burt was keen to make an impression in the few scenes the filmmakers could afford to pay him for, and the sequence where he ‘proves’ his powers to his doubting-thomas psychiatrist (Lee Remick) remains spine-chilling even today. Plane blown up, as usual, by the late and legendary Derek Meddings.
Blow up John Cassavetes. (The Fury, 1978)
John Cassavetes was a severely under-regarded actor in his time, as well as a compelling screen-presence and an original cinematic thinker. But if he came into my place and tried to force me to watch Husbands again, I’d have to agree with Amy Irving’s solution in The Fury…
Take a $500 taxi-ride for a buck. (Firestarter, 1983)
Stephen King’s tale of a pyro-kinetic girl being chased by the government for her powers is undoubtedly a significant predecessor to Push. However it’s the powers of young Drew Barrymore’s dad (Keith David) that are arguably the most desirable. You wouldn’t really blow someone’s head up or bring down a plane, would you? But weak-minded taxi-drivers who take you the ‘scenic route’ could end up with a shock when tallying the takings at day’s end…
Push is released in the US on the 6th of February, in the UK on the 20th.
Further recommended viewing:The Power (1968) The X-Men trilogy (2000-07)Matilda (1996)
Recommended reading:Top 10 exploding people
30 January 2009