Aug. 19, 2021

Faithspotting "Val"


Mercedes and Jack Kilmer from "Val."

Kenny and Mike discuss the Amazon Prime film VAL and spot faith reflected in the 2021 documentary autobiographical film on Val Kilmer.


Kenny and Mike discuss the Amazon Prime film VAL and spot faith reflected in the 2021 documentary autobiographical film on Val Kilmer.

Faith Notes: Below are additional thoughts on the faith elements discussed in the episode. 

This film shows that joy and peace are possible after devestating loss. While not showing the entire process Val Kilmer used to overcome the many losses in his life, it does show that grief and  recovery is more than a passage of time, it is a process to work through.

As Val writes at the end of the film, healing is experienced through love and love is based on honesty. The love of Christ is the great source of healing in life, healing that leads most importantly to peace. Christ is always honest, sharing the feelings anger, loss, and pain we experience.  As Christ was honest in his feelings, thoughts, and emotions, to grieve and to recover from loss one needs to be honest with feelings of anger, mourning, and loss. Included in this honesty and is the recognition and acceptance that although life's hopes, dreams and expectations have changed, new hope, dreams and expectations can emerge.

Purpose also can play a central role in enduring the pain of loss and moving into recovery and peace. Val Kilmer rediscovered his purpose as an artist, not only creating his own art, but helping to provide a resource for other artists. This film was a part of that purpose, to show that healing and recovery is possible. He also worked with a company in developing AI technology that can serve to return a persons voice after it has been lost.  (See Link Below)

While the time through the grieving process is unqiue for the individual, it is a journey through a season that leads to a new normality in life. Although pain and void remain in life, they do not have to be of life.

Passages for Grief Season: (NRSV)

Ecclesiastes 3:1-15          For everything there is a season..

Lamentations 3:19-26   The Lord is my portion..I will hope in Him.

Psalm 23                         The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.

Psalm 103:8,13-14,17      The Lord is merciful and gracious..

Psalm 147:3,5                ...The Lord heals the brokenhearted...

Isaiah 25: 1, 6-9                He will swallow up death forever.

Isaiah 43: 18-21               Do not remember the former things....I                                             am about to do a new thing

Isaiah 55:6-13                  ..For you shall go out in joy and be led                                               back in peace.

Matthew 11:25-30          ....Come to me all who labor...   

John 1:1-18                        ...The Light shines in the darkness...

John 14:1-4,18-19,25-27   Do not let your hearts be troubled.

Romans 8:18-39               ...In all things we are more than                                                        conquerors through Him who loved us.

1 Corinthians 15:35-57 ...Death has been swallowed up in victory.

Revelation 21:1-7              ....Mourning and crying and pain will                                                                                    be no more....




Intro: I'm Kenny Dickson, and I'm mike Hatch, welcome to Faithspotting.

Audio Clip, Val Kilmer: Yeah, I've wanted to tell a story about acting for a very long time about the place where you end and the character begins about truth and illusion. Now that it's more difficult to speak. I want to tell my story more than ever.

Mike: There's a clip from Val, you can watch that now on amazon Prime and I don't know if people are calling it a documentary

Kenny: or autobiographical film.

Mike: Exactly. So I'm my catch and this is Faithspotting. So yeah, I was reading an article, we sound so boujee when we say this, but I was reading an article in variety and they were talking about that. Is that the documentary, is it kind of uh it's hard to see if it's going to be entered anywhere into any sort of competitions. I would definitely call it a biography, but it is kind of a self

Kenny: It's an autobiographical film.

Mike: Exactly. And if you haven't seen it or you really don't know anything about it. Val Kilmer's son, Jack is the one who does the narration or the video, whatever you wanna call for it. And you would think when you're listening to him it sounds just like Val when I was younger, especially when I was going through the puberty thing and I got through it. There were times that people would call. In fact it was an ex girlfriend of mine, she called and she goes, hey, you know, I'm looking for Mike and my dad who answers the phone And he goes he goes, oh no, I'll get him. It was like, oh Mike is that you. And so she starts talking to my dad like it's me because my dad sounds so like, and my son is actually starting to sound a lot like me. So that's what I was thinking with this movie that Jack sounds so much like his dad, val Kilmer.

Kenny: Well, he does and we'll sort of lay some some background on that. It's a film that is made up pretty much from year’s worth. In fact, almost all of Val’s life

Mike: Over 1000 hours

Kenny: Over 1000 hours of video. He was quickly into video cameras back when nobody else was. And so he video almost seemingly every part of his life. And so this has been sitting in a, in a warehouse for 50 years. And so with this, we're completing our trilogy of lost video and life expressed and seen on video from nine days to summer soul. And now this the reason his son was, was doing the narration and the voice overs. He has lost most of his voice to throat cancer that he I think was diagnosed with in 2017 or so.

Mike: So I mean he's able to talk. He doesn't even have a voice box. He covers the hole in his throat to speak.

Kenny: He has a stoma and he has to cover that. He doesn't have the mechanical device that that people. So I think he still has his voice box but he has to shut it somehow. But you know, it's it's hard and they have subtitles. So his son reads what uh I suppose Val wrote uh as the script and narration and as you said, it is astoundingly similar to him,

Mike: Cadence and tone and everything. It just like almost just a younger Val Kilmer, maybe even before we saw him in films.

Kenny: And if he had, it's what I would, I would think Val was like when he wasn't acting. So, you know, if he was acting, if if Jack, his son was acting, you know, he may even sound like him now. It's a story that premiered at Cannes this year and has gotten somewhat mixed. But overridingly, I think good reviews. Some have questioned that it glosses over some of the negative parts of his career in life, and I think that case can be made for that, but for what it is, uh and we'll get into more of that. But I mean, and showing not only his life, but it really shows in his being an actor in a public figure. It shows sort of a history of of cinema and acting from, you know, the early 1980s onward.

Mike: So knowing you know, the mixed reviews, what were your thoughts on the film? What did you think of it?

Kenny: I really enjoyed it. I thought it was engaging and I think I think is very profound. I think it is a window or it could have been even more so, but it is a window into a life lived under challenging circumstances and a life that overcame many, many obstacles. Any of which typically derails a life especially in public life. I mean I had sort of forgotten about valid every now and then, you know on yahoo or something might see you know, they have these Clickbait things of pictures of stars and it showed you know, valve 40 years later you won't believe what it looks like, you know, but I didn't realize he had had cancer until I saw this. It is a history not only of his life or as part of his life of overcoming just tremendous loss, primarily the central Los being the loss of his younger middle brother, Wesley Kilmer very tragically, very tragically and who was as val even says he he was the heartbeat in a creative sense of that family. Val was interested in acting. Wesley was going to be a film director, he made films growing up, you know, your typical childlike films, you know, newly purchased video camera making that they were lucky their father, they lived in Hollywood or Los Angeles had bought the ranch of um Roy Rogers trigger away from middle school and you know, so they had this this sort of amazing childhood existence that that would feed this desire for a creative type, like his middle brother was. And when I saw to me, he looked, he reminded me of, of steven Spielberg, you know, you look at his early films.

Mike: And even m night Shyamalan, he does a lot of the extras from his Dvds or Blue Rays. He shows you some of the movies he made when he was a kid. And one of them of course as you saw was

Kenny: I was gonna say, what was your favorite part?

Mike: Jaw.

Audio Clip: And I'll find him and I'll kill him, But not for no measly $3. I'll find him for three and I'll kill him. But then $10,000, 10 boxes of cracker.

Mike: I finished watching this probably about 20 minutes ago, I guess the best way that I can describe it, it's just maybe it's going to take some time to shake it, but just the overwhelming feel of sadness and just tragedy. And I don't know, maybe it was part what he went through with losing his brother or maybe it's just the cancer that ravaged him and took a lot of his spirit. But I know we got his spirit back. It was absolutely engaging. I'm completely with you on that a couple of things you'll see and I'm not going to ruin everything for you, but a couple of things that stuck out for me, which are really cool. You see appearances in his home videos of Sean Penn and kevin Bacon and you know,

Kenny: Very, very young,

Mike: Like super young, we're talking, you know, Juilliard Young and he was one of the younger actors. Val Kilmer was one of the younger actors that went to Juilliard, but think of his career, you see a lot of that. Brando was another one. If you are ever a fan of film, this is a movie to see because there's so much going on. But again, there's this undercurrent of just sadness. But One thing I gotta give it to is, you know, A24, I'm telling you right now, A24, please do not sell. Do not sell. I've never seen in an A24 film That I've walked away from and gone, okay, that's a popcorn movie. I don't, I'm not taking anything from it. Every single film that I've seen from A24 has been either phenomenal or you walk away and chew on it for days.

Kenny: substance Absolutely.

Mike: And that's the way it should be. And I know that there's a place for movies that are out there that are fun and light and you know, blowing up things and all that. But these are things that really feed your soul in your mind and make you walk away and go, yes, this is an element of art, This is not just popcorn that people go to, This is something that you will really get something of substance out of.

Kenny: Like you said to feed you feed your soul and not only your your desire, you're wanting to escape, you know, and be distracted from live for a while, but it does, it entertains you and they typically give you something to think about.

Mike: and I'm gonna give it to him for that, like Val Kilmer, I know was a big, big part of this, he could have and you're right, there were a couple of things where you're going okay, they probably could have shown more of how of an arse he was on set and you do see a little bit of that with the attitude when they were making The Island of Dr Moreau, you see that going on with the director.  But there were a lot of times you see warts and all. I mean the part that hit me the most was he's signing autographs and one of the Comic Cons, he says, hey, I need some time and before you know it, he's sitting in the back couch when there are fans on the outside and he's just vomiting into a pale.

Kenny: They have to get him a trash can to vomit into and then they have to they take him out to rest and they put him in a wheelchair and cover him, cover him up because… And then he comes back, I mean, you know, I have every other actor in the world or a person would have just said, look, you know, I can't go on. But he yeah, rested up slept came back and sign autographs and was very great.

Mike: And that's a side note that I'll give you two. I've gone to several of those comic cons and because I'm into the Walking Dead, they have something called walker stalker, which is like a Walking Dead type thing. And the thing about that is you see a lot of offshoots of actors that go in other places like because it was an AMC event. They had Giancarlo Esposito. No, I think it's Giancarlo Yeah, yeah, I think it's Giancarlo, so Giancarlo Esposito and other folks from Breaking Bad, but there is a part of you, there's a part of you when you're walking around you look at some of these actors, there's a part of you that goes, I feel so bad that they're feeding on what they used to be.

Mike: It's almost a little bit of a pity feeling that you have and I felt that when he was signing those things and he addressed that in the video and in the narration, he said, you know, there are times that I get really blue and just very, very sadly depressed and they show that, you know, but it's cool that he acknowledges that because I think a lot of actors feel that they're never going to admit that, I was like, well I've got fans and I'm gonna charge $50 an autograph or picture, but you do see that, that's part of that warts and all.

Kenny: Well and it does, but even in that, and I haven't been to too many of those, but from what I gather, a lot of the people there, they'll sign a picture or something. They may not sign what you bring up and they may not personalize it like he was doing, you know, when they would say sign it whatever, and usually quote from, a film

Mike: I'll be your wingman.

Kenny: Yeah, or from Batman.You know, there is a bit of that and there is an undercurrent and maybe not so much under, there is a current of sadness to it because you're constantly, you're seeing this contrast between who he is now, who's older and most of it, you know, But somebody who's compromised obviously with his, his voice and I think there may be even more, it just seemed like neurologically his his gait is a little different than that. And so who knows? But to contrast that from who he was in Top Gun. I mean, he was the perfect Hollywood specimen. I mean he was a gorgeous person, Very magnetic and he had it all in his, he was a true actor. Unlike Tom Cruise and I mean he, he dominated that, that, that was, that was Iceman's movie. I'm sorry, I'm sorry. So you get a sense of that. And then, and then tombstone, oh my, you know, I remember when that came out and they had the two uh they had the two competing movies that came out about the same time and and his his Doc Holiday just,

Mike: Blew everybody out of the water into this day. One of my favorite comedies of all time, real genius.

Audio Clip: Something strange happened to me this morning. Was it a dream where you see yourself standing and sort of sun god robes on a pyramid with 1000 naked women screaming and throwing little pickles at, you know, I am I the only person that has that dream?

Mike: Absolutely genius. I mean no pun intended it just a genius. Comedy hilarious. So he showed that he could do the drama tombstone, but he could also do the comedy, the dry comedy that is just absolutely


Kenny: The singing, was that you know from that from that first film, he was in?

Mike: “Top Secret.”

Kenny: And so I mean he could, he could do really slapstick, almost bad imitation of Airplane comedy and do these other things. So to be reminded of going through and seeing if there's one thing to remember what you may have looked like and you sort of forget that. And I guess it's something that I mean it would be easy for him to go see his films. But whenever you're representative this is who you were. And you know, not only have you lost your looks, your youth looks to aids that we all do, but as an actor to lose his voice, there's nothing more to lose. Even even if he couldn't walk and be able to, but to lose your voice and that is your instrument.

Mike: He lost his voice at a time that I really truly believe that if he kept his voice, he didn't have that cancer. He was in the process of essentially saving up money doing a stage production of Mark Twain and they had some cuts in that that were just hilarious. They were so good.

Audio Clip: You know, the difference between playing in the casino and praying in church don't you? In the casino, they really mean it,

Mike: this all happens. You know, I had, I was coughing up blood, he walks through how he found out that he had throat cancer. And after that, like you said, he lost his voice and that's that's probably the tragic part for me because I was waiting for a, like a john Travolta come back. So I was waiting for Val Kilmer to say, okay, I've got this screen play that I've written is, you know, biography and here it is and I was waiting for that. But again, that's when he has his cancer, and it falls apart.

Kenny: He probably could have would have ended up on Broadway they were heading towards us and then a movie. So he maybe could have gotten Tony maybe could have gotten the other. But but the other thing is, all of this happened after, and this was a mistake he made after he sold his 6000 acre ranch in New Mexico. That was gonna be his legacy and not only pass it on to his family but then also trying to make it more of an artistic place community where artists could come and go, he sold that because he was he had debt. But he also wanted to start and finance starts dancing the film. Um And and a lot of that debt came on because his father had implicated him in some some bad you know, so so that that again yeah, it was the tragedy and so so he not only lost again his voice but he lost his his what he thought was gonna be his legacy both in terms of something to give in a tangible way. And then also perhaps some you know great achievement and fulfilling a project that he had dreamed about.

Mike: And this is something that if you're an actor please watch this movie because there's so many times that you watch Hollywood stars and you know, there's no way that that star could fall. How is it that they aren't still a millionaire watch this movie. You'll see some things that happen personally that you already mentioned there that you sit there and go, all right, I can kind of see how that happened and it's again part of the tragedy. But actors are people too, they have their own bills a lot of times. They live beyond their means and especially when they're doing well in the movies, they go into debt. And that's exactly what you see the result of in this film.

Kenny: There is this this this current of loss or or sadness that the results from just these various losses. And and his family was one of those families that had a seminal loss, and moment in their life, the death of Wesley. That's one of those things that is a seminal moment, when I say that there is before Wesley's death and, after Wesley's death.

Audio Voice Over: He was 15. The sky wept. No more home videos. No more makeshift place. My confidant had disappeared into dust. Her family was never the same again.

Kenny: And a lot of families have that. My family, we have it before autism with our daughter and after and you you recover from that and you go on through it. But that's another loss. Everything changes. You. You're, you're the dreams you had of your brother perhaps directing you and all your, your, your life trajectory that you were planning on and hoping for that's gone. Their family had already, their parents had already divorced but his dad was lost. That the father who he had and maybe that lead into some of the reckless investments and life choices that that impacted val. Um, and so you have all of these things. They have all of these losses. And yet though this film in the midst of that current of sadness, there is the joy that he's still here, that he survived, that he hasn't quit. That he hasn't become bitter. And that's what, that's what typically happens. People get angry at everything and that, that anger can consume. Uh, and he's had much to be angry about and people to be angry at. I don't know if he's still Christian Scientists or not, but their parents were Christian Scientist. And so they raised them to be the fact that he got treated for the cancer. And I mean that it makes you wonder, you know, did, and he said his dad never recovered from his brother's loss because it quote happened on his watch. Was it also they, that they didn't treat his, he had epilepsy and had had an attack and drowned in in their hot tub?

Mike: They did mention in the film though that it was under his watch, that his son should have taken the epilepsy medicine.

Kenny: Okay. So they were, they were giving him, but he didn't make him, he wasn't too

Mike: I’m sort of assuming from what I remember in the movie. Yeah, that, that basically the dad had not given the medicine to him and therefore he had the epileptic seizure in the jacuzzi or hot tub and drowned.

Kenny: So they were treated, but again, a lot, a lot of folks don't recover from just that. And then you had on top of that, the career, the loss of his, you know, still at a as an actor many years left in a career, and again, actively pursuing a passionate project. So you have that, just a lot of loss and yet overcoming the loss. Some of the criticism is that they really don't address, and really they deny a lot of the reputation that he was a difficult actor. They had one minute and once they had some other actors saying that he wasn't difficult, but I mean, you can tell on that on, so when they're on that Island of Dr Moreau that, you know, he was arguing with the director and the the director was brought in after the first director was fired and the director was was trying to withstand and finish this project with the S-storm that is that was Brando at that time, and I know he was a hero to Val Brando was but but Brando had done that in everything he'd done since probably the 1060’s. I mean, you know, he was difficult to work with in the Godfather, he was supposed to be the Godfather 2 and at the last pulled out, and Apocalypse Now was, you know, and so he that's who he was.

Kenny: Yeah, so, you know, he was having, they showed him and they showed Brando just eating this guy's ear out, you know, wanting his ideas and this crazy stuff, you know, and so, you know, him throwing a little fit and refusing to turn off his video camera and all this, he was not adding. So you know, so you get the point he there is some validity to some of the stuff and I've heard also that the divorce may not have been just because of the him being gone. But it would have been interesting to cover that it maybe in his mind he wasn't a problem. And it would have been interesting to see him self-reflect on that to see you know how And why he may have been at times difficult not to play psychiatrist or psychologist diagnosing from 20 years ago. You know, their videos, but just the way that he continued to to use the video and you know, way past the time when it was not a novelty anymore. And it was not in a lot of ways. It makes you wonder was the video sort of Wesley his way to hold on to Wesley his way to talk to us and you know, of showing this and doing that and you know, so it would have been interesting, I think if they would have looked at that and and maybe uh spent some time again reflecting on that and not just with a wave of a hand saying it didn't happen. I I think that would have really made this already an interesting piece to look at that can speak to people who have experienced these losses and how do you get through? Will you get through by having a purpose? Now his purpose has lately been to do this. But this project and he is in Top gun to some degree, I've heard.

Mike: Yeah.

Kenny: It'll be interesting to see how they do it.

Mike: Yeah. I'm very curious to see how they're going to do that. I have a feeling that they'll probably be, I guess the word is they'll they'll show reverence to his character.

Kenny: I hope we'll see. We will see how that goes, how they can do voice. They could have Jack come and say his lines.

Mike: Seriously, you're not kidding. You're not kidding.

Kenny: So, uh, you know, to me, there, is that again that sadness, but there is the ending joy, that one he survived. And and then he seems to have a happy life. He has a good relationship obviously with his children, which is great. I mean, he lives next door to his daughter.

Mike: And if you noticed when they went to his mother's funeral, his ex-wife was there. So, and it didn't you didn't see any sort of tension. It seemed like she

Kenny:  Was mad at him, for something else.

Mike: That is true. But it was like a dumb thing. But still, maybe he showed that just you'd be playful, but at least they could be in the same room at the same time with their kids and show, you know, a remembrance for his mother. So that was good at least.

Kenny: And it showed his vulnerability when reacting when he got home. And was looking through his mother's things all in all. It's fairly warts and all, as you said presentation, it's an interesting historical look at not only uh somewhat of an a list actor, at least at one time, wife who played it's one of those deals. You oh, I forgot he did that, or I forgot he did that. He did that. Yeah. And then just the industry gives you a glimpse into that. But from the faith perspective, you know, it does show he didn't become bitter, he didn't collapse and spiral into depression and in an early death and he's and it sounds like he's supporting his son, who, I mean, look, part of the film they're going to Juilliard to visit for him uh for Jack. So, I I think it's I think it's certainly worth watching. It's certainly worth watching on amazon, especially if you're a fan of Val um I think it will be worth it. And again, it does speak to to the importance of having purpose and being able to overcome tremendous loss in one's life uh and going forward in a in establishing a a new sense of normal and a new life arc.

Audio Clip Val: Here on earth, the distance between heaven and hell is the difference between faith and doubt. I have no doubt, for example, my recent illness, shutdown. Professional opportunities that were not opportunities at all, healing is not born of vanity. It is born of honesty, honesty is born of pure love, and love

is the most divine healer, the sweetest holiest and most effective. Yeah.

Outro: Faithspotting is a production of Cross Roads Faith and Film. Some materials used, is not property of Faithspotting but is utilized under the fair-use guidelines. Thank you so much for listening. We'll catch you next week.