There’s supposed to be something like three stories, right? Boy Meets Girl. Boy Kills Father. Boy Gets Old. Whatever the number of seminal narratives, it’s all derivatives of derivatives now, exemplified by Jordan Peele’s ballyhooed Get Out. While the film is a compelling attempt to address the hypocrisy of whites pretending not being racist, the story mashes up Scream, Being John Malkovich and Driving Miss Daisy and is plodding at best. There is no character development nor even plot, nothing to consider in the individual, except that we’re just derivatives of derivatives of ourselves.20th Century Women, ironically this year’s choice original screenplay at the Oscars, represents more laziness, offering moronic short-hand for finding truth in accepting our silly old selves. Quirky, they call it.Both films fall into a blithering tradition, initiated by heralded auteurs with such films as Breathless, Easy Rider, and The Last Picture Show. Rather than offer an arc or delve into the intricacies of character, these films offer things to look at, moments to be consumed, and then we’re needing more.
Like Micheal Cimino’s Heaven’s Gate, critics have attacked and mocked the excessive ways of Dennis Hopper’s The Last Movie. Rather than focus on the film – the imagery, characterizations and experimental structure – they honed in on the sensational stories of orgies and cocaine consumption because that’s what sells. The truth is, while Hopper’s film may be flawed, it is seminal – directionless, faded and disturbing. Under the tutelage of Chilean director Alejandro Jodorowsky, Hopper constructed an experimental narrative – including a title card flashing missing scene as if we are watching a rush – continually reminding the viewer of what this is – just a film.While it’s not earth-shattering genius, neither was Easy Rider nor even Midnight Cowboy or Apocalypse Now for that matter, but it’s genuine and a far cry from the processed images of today, all seemingly rendered from a rendering of a rendering. Personal and real, The Last Movie itself will be rendered soon enough. “Love is everywhere.”
The film opens with an extreme close-up of a black man, Nogo, driving at night on a deserted road. The camera pulls back to reveal Nogo being followed by a full-size pickup truck, its high beams bearing down. Nogo is forced off the road. The driver and passengers, each bearing arms, lean out of the truck as Nogo leaps out, tire iron in hand.“Tolerance! You got that?” He smashes out a headlight and then the other as the driver raises a shotgun. Nogo stares back, defiant. “You better have more than that.”
Yes, just think Django Unchained meets Punch Drunk Love meets Easy Rider.