‘Stranger Things,’ ‘Full Metal Jacket’ Star Showcases Powerful Photos at New Houston Gallery

‘Stranger Things,’ ‘Full Metal Jacket’ Star Showcases Powerful Photos at New Houston Gallery

THE ALTA ARTS, Houston’s newest interdisciplinary gallery and performance space, located in Gulfton, is the site of a powerful exhibition of photographs by actor Matthew Modine.

The show features images he took with a vintage Rolleiflex camera while filming the 1987 Vietnam war drama Full Metal Jacket. It opens Jan. 22, with a talk and Q&A with Modine from 1-4pm, and runs through March 5.

Modine, who has enjoyed a long, successful career in Hollywood, and returns as Martin Brenner in season four of the wildly popular Netflix series Stranger Things, was just 26 when Kubrick cast him as Marine Private J.T. “Joker” Davis in what would become one of the most popular and critically acclaimed Vietnam War films of all time. Over the course of two years of filming, Modine photographed his fellow actors, as well as Kubrick himself, documenting the authenticity and artifice required in great filmmaking. Modine has supported such organizations as Wounded Warrior Project, and his photos also speak to the human cost of war.

Now 62, with a head of gray hair pulled back with a bandana, Modine exudes the confidence of a man unafraid to show his feelings — and willing to stand tall in the face of adversity, including mankind’s propensity for violence, something that was very much on his mind when he received the script for Full Metal Jacket.

“When the script came to me,” says Modine, “and I saw I was going to have to stand over a young Vietnamese girl who was begging me to end her life, I thought, what I want to do in that moment is splash blood on the audience. I want them to feel the responsibility of what this American marine has done in service to his country, and understand the scars that Joker was going to carry for the rest of his life were things that wouldn’t heal.”

In the film, Joker wears a peace symbol on the lapel of his jacket but scrawls the words “Born To Kill” on his helmet, which speaks to the duality of man, where the ego is in conflict with one’s “shadow,” or what Robert A. Johnson describes as the “despised quarter of our being.” Not surprisingly, in many of his photos, Modine uses shadow to great effect, both as a symbol and a compositional tool. One especially striking image is of a trio of actors as soldiers presented in silhouette, their automatic rifles pointed to the sky, looking very much like a moment a wartime correspondent from 1968 might have captured on the very camera Modine was using. Amazingly, Modine had never taken photos before filming Full Metal Jacket. “I was a painter,” says Modine. “My father taught me composition with watercolors, and with watercolors, you learn a lot about light values.”

Modine’s large-scale, aluminum prints are installed with plenty of room to breathe and interact, and are perfectly suited to the size of Alta’s garage-like space. The fact that this is only the second time Modine has shown these photos publicly makes the exhibit even more of a must-see for Houstonians, especially fans of Kubrick, who challenged, pushed and ultimately inspired Modine to create one film history’s most iconic characters.

“Kubrick wasn’t somebody who tells you how to act and how to be in the scene,” says Modine. “He was the most collaborative filmmaker I ever worked with.”

Art + Entertainment
‘Natural Passion’ Makes Fourth-Gen Houstonian Sarah Callaway Sulma a Realty Star

AS A FOURTH-generation Houstonian, Sarah Callaway Sulma has a unique and invaluable view of the city. Her deep seeded connection to Houston led her down the path to becoming one the city's most well-respected, and renowned real estate agents. Sarah's natural passion for the real estate industry from a young age led her to where she is today. "I know that it sounds cheesy, but it is the truth! I wanted to be in real estate from a young age," Sarah shares. "The late-great restaurateur, Tony Vallone, put me together with real estate legend, Martha Turner, and Martha put me together with Cathy Cagle. The rest is history-13 years of success and counting!" Now with over 13 years in real estate and $55M+ in residential real estate sales, Sarah brings a rare combination of knowledge, skill, and advocacy to each one of her clients.

Keep ReadingShow less

THE MEANING OF “cool” evolves. In the ’50s you might have thought greasers were cool, with their leather jackets à la Danny Zuko. In the ’70s, a long-haired activist or a Studio 54 reveler in Halston. In the ’80s, a Wall Street master of the universe?

Keep ReadingShow less
People + Places

Benny Ballarin, Nicholas Condos, James Whitley, Harrison Condos, Fay Whitley

DESIGN AFICIONADOS GATHERED at the Decorative Center of Houston to welcome its latest tenant, Harbour, an Australian company specializing in modern coastal furniture that will be able to withstand Houston's heat.

Keep ReadingShow less