Shivers from the Sixties

5 05 2005

Actually, that title is misleading in all sort of ways, but it’s going to make sense in a few minutes.

I spent some time talking about this with someone this afternoon. Someone once said that the best age in music is 15. By that, I assume he/she meant that the music that we end of loving for the rest of our lives is, basically, the music that we fell in love with when we were impressionable teens.

The age for falling in love with films may or may not be 15, but I certainly can tell you that not everyone well loved film stands the test of maturity.

When it first came out, I loved Dennis Hopper’s THE LAST MOVIE. Here is the description of the film on IMdB.


Plot Summary for The Last Movie (1971)
A film shoot in Peru goes badly wrong when an actor is killed in a stunt, and the unit wrangler, Kansas, decides to give up film-making and stay on in the village, shacking up with local prostitute Maria. But his dreams of an unspoiled existence are interrupted when the local priest asks him to help stop the villagers killing each other by re-enacting scenes from the film for real because they don’t understand movie fakery…

The style of the film (Hopper was fresh off his success d’estime of EASY RIDER and was apparently given carte blanche (wow, that’s two French expressions in one sentence, how pretentious can I get?) to make this movie. And, boy, did he!!

His theory that people believe too much of what they see on screen made tons of sense to me. I was next deep in Artaud and Brecht at the time and I couldn’t believe how well Hopper embodied Artaud’s Theater of Cruelty concepts. He spliced Academy Leader, flash frames, run-outs, etc. within the context of the film. All of it said “Do not make the mistake of thinking that this is real life! This Is A Film Goddamit!” It was a fantastic film, stylistically and conceptually.

Until I saw it about 15 years later. When it was self-indulgent, pretentious, drivel, stylistically and conceptually.

Now, I’m fairly convinced that the film hadn’t changed in that decade and a half. My guess is that it was ME who had changed. I remember desperately liking almost film that I didn’t understand back when I was an undergrad. Bergman — wow!! (By the way, I still feel that way, but that’s off my main topic.) Godard, even better. UN CHIEN ANDALOU — the best! And the fact the Bunuel was speaking in a language that I didn’t quite grasp, didn’t mean that I didn’t feel that what he was saying spoke to me.

Most of those experiences, by the way, still move me (though not always in the same ways). But I’ve had a tough time with THE LAST MOVIE.

Anyone else had these kind of experiences? It’s like Beer Eyes for Cinema.

Norman

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3 responses

5 05 2005
Tamara

I cannot answer this because I am not 800 years old like you, Norm.

Just kidding.

Sort of.

I guess I just haven’t had that experience yet, maybe some day I’ll look at Pulp Fiction and think, why did I love this? but that movie still makes me very much want to be a filmmaker, and more than that, a writer.

5 05 2005
Norman

But, see, PULP FICTION is a great film, unlike THE LAST MOVIE, so you might not feel that way, even in 300 years (let’s be fair here, okay??)

5 05 2005
Tamara

Yes, but… you see, I didn’t see The Last Movie when it came out. (or ever actually)

I guess the comparison would be to something like Slacker. Which I hated the first time I saw it.

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