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#88 - Easy Rider

Dennis Hopper (star, director, co-screenwriter) and Peter Fonda (star, producer, co-screenwriter) bring us this slice of 1969, in the form of a "biker flick" about two long-haired hippies and their trip from LA to... well, we're not exactly sure where.

And not exactly sure why, for that matter. And hardly even who... we don't get Fonda's character's real name until the movie is almost over. This is not a film that has much in the way of definable plot. Or really much dialogue, even. So what's left, you ask? Mood. And it's all mood.

I did a little more research in this review than I have in the past. What I found was mostly what I find everytime... people talking about what makes the movie great. This time, it's the fact that it apparently encapsulates the feel of counter-culture America in the late '60s close to perfection. I can't really say that I completely understand that, given that I wasn't even a glimmer in my mother's eye at that point.

But I get an idea of what it's about, which was helped by a review I found that ran in the New York Times the day it opened. It isn't a bad review, but it is pretty clear that the reviewer doesn't "jive." He's not counter-culture (how can he be, he's writing for the NY Times), and he doesn't quite get it.

The mood of the film is hard to describe. It is, at once, free-wheeling and trapped, fearless and scared stiff, righteous and completely wrong. It is misunderstood, disappointed and sad, sad, sad. The pretty desert settings and rollicking rock & roll soundtrack only serve to sharpen this dystopic sense. I wish I could talk about more good things about this movie (like Jack Nicholson's scene-stealing role), but all they do is to serve this mood-setting that is incredibly jarring... but quite effective.

If this film is the mood of 1969, I think I'm glad I wasn't there. 'Cause I woulda gotten a haircut.

(See this post if you're confused why I'm reviewing movies.)


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