Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Movie Review: Two-Lane Blacktop

Two-Lane Blacktop 
Michael Laughlin Enterprises, Universal Pictures, USA, 1971. 
title Two-Lane Blacktop

The Driver (James Taylor) and The Mechanic (Dennis Wilson) are laconic and car-obsessed chaps who basically live in their car, black custom-built Chevy '55. Road racing is their way of life. The Girl (Laurie Bird) is a hippie trying to go to San Francisco so she joins them. Her presence results in a drama triangle. That doesn't last long though, as the guys are more interested in their car than her.
Dennis Wilson and James Taylor
The Mechanic and The Driver
Laurie Bird
The Girl
The guys challenge a man of tall tales, G.T.O (Warren Oates) to a road race. Winner gets the loser's car. As contrast to the old Chevy, G.T.O's Pontiac is modern muscle car. However the race doesn't have much importance. Sometimes they stop to repair the cars, hang around and chat. Sometimes G.T.O gives a lift to hitchhikers and tells untruthful stories about himself, being a former fighter pilot, movie director and whatever. However he is a burned-out adrenaline-junkie whose motor leaks. "What do we have, thirty-forty years?" reminds a delusional hitchhiker or a messenger of death.
Warren Oates
The style is very minimalistic and existential. It has more in common with French New Wave films than with usual chase films. The cinematic time capsule preserves flashes of 1970s Americana, gas stations, race tracks and diners. Everyone is going somewhere and nowhere. Nothing much happens but there is nothing unnecessary. It has the same kind of rootlessness and disillusionment of post-Vietnam era U.S.A as in "Easy Rider" and "The Vanishing Point". The only place for freedom is on the road and even that does not matter. 
The scrolling yellow road line in the beginning looks like inspiration for the scenes in James Cameron's  "Terminator 2" and David Lynch's "Lost Highway."

Rating: Very good

Starring: James Taylor, Warren Oates, Laurie Bird, Dennis Wilson, David Drake, Richard Ruth, Rudy Wurlitzer, Jaclyn Hellman, Bill Keller, Harry Dean Stanton, Don Samuels, Charles Moore, Tom Green, W.H. Harrison, Alan Vint, Illa Ginnaven, George Mitchell, A.J. Solari, Katherine Squire, Melissa Hellman, Jay Wheatley, James Mitchum, Kreag Caffey, Tom Witenbarger, Glen Rogers, Tomas Moore, Big Willie Robinson III 
Director: Monte Hellman


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