Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Seen some movies lately...

"Two-Lane Blacktop" is one of those late sixties/early seventies existential road movies that the young people seemed to want more and more of. Films like "Vanishing Point", "Easy Rider" and, of course "Rafferty and The Golddust Twins" pointed the way to a need to turn on, tune off and get out for the kids, man. But I think I prefer "Two-Lane Blacktop" (at least until "Vanishing Point" gets a snazzy Criterion edition*) and here's why- it's a very melancholy film with an ache of loneliness where the romanticism of the other films would be. The film never allows the Driver (James Taylor- only acting part in a movie, unless you count his time onstage with Carly Simon in the concert film "No Nukes"**) and the Mechanic (Dennis "The Beach Boys' drummer" Wilson- only acting part ever, unless you count when he played the drums) to start talking about why their racing their car, or why they're on the road. They just are and, in fact, most of the dialogue goes to Warren Oates, who is on fi-yah here as "GTO" a guy who is driving a GTO. I kid, but this movie is a great look at the male animal when it comes to how desperately he needs companionship. The men in this film all need the Girl (Laurie Bird- first film, went on to be a photographer, Art Garfunkle's girlfirend and a tragic suicide) and express this in different, but equally intense ways. Worth it just to see Oates turn down Harry Dean Stanton's come-ons. Get it here.
I got on the "Once" bandwagon a little late in the game, as I tend to do these days with most films, what with taking care of Future and working. But I am on it now. This film would not work without the charisma the two leads have (both musician/singer/songwriters who have never acted before***) and the great songs they write/perform in the film. It's hard to get actors who can hold a camera's (and the audience's) attention the way these two seem to effortlessly. Notice how the director only really moves the camera in a big way twice, and each time depends on how interested we are in one of the two leads. The only reason he gets away with it is because of how much the actors have earned our interest.

Get it here.

Coming up, I join the "unqualified pundits talking about poor Heath Ledger" bandwagon.

*Because I'm a big f'ing snob. There. I said it. Happy?

**And no one does.
***And now the theme of this post is revealed... ta-DAH!

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