Two-Lane Blacktop (1971)
Story of two men drag racing across the USA in a primer grey 55 chevy. Wilson is the mechanic, James Taylor is the driver. (imdb)
Cast and Information
Directed By: Monte Hellman
Where to Stream
Two-Lane Blacktop belongs to 61 collections
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Taylor and Wilson play two metaph...err, CHARACTERS that live only to race their cars in order to win enough money to race their cars some more. They meet a girl that they (and we) don't care about. They also meet GTO, another racer we sorta care about, since he's the only character given any semblance of depth, and he's the only real actor present. While I appreciate the hell out of the nihilistic message, and I enjoyed some of the landscape shots, this was tedious, confusing, and unnecessary.
Everything that Easy Rider got wrong, this got right. I also like how it ended, could've easily been 5 hours longer but ending the way it did was pretty much perfect. It's definitely an unconventional movie and saying that it's slow moving or complaining about the lack of dialogue is just strange to me. It's about so much more like the notion of disenchantment, finding yourself, and looking for authenticity in the world. Really lives up to its reputation.
Beneath all the car talk lurks a pondering existential character study, with a touch of nihilism. There's the two young and anxious drifters ("you can never go fast enough"), and then you've got Warren Oates as the older counterpoint who seems to be trying to preserve his youth, even if it means compulsively lying about the past. I enjoyed the ambiguity and what felt like near-aimlessness. A much more subtle offering next to the film it's most compared to, Easy Rider.
Although I normally loathe these aimless, high brow existential films where the plot sort of falls apart halfway through, this was some how very enjoyable, even though the plot does exactly just...erm, well. For a cross country road race movie it feels surprisingly claustrophobic and slow. But the slow pacing doesn't matter when the mood (one of loss and loneliness) is as effectively conveyed as it is here. Cannonball Run by way of Antonioni, if you will.
Takes the Easy Rider template and turns it around, shaking out some of the cynicism and nastiness and striking much closer to the heart. Although the film does seem to find reason to have a small amount of hope along the search for meaning, things don't look too bright for any of the characters by the end. The movie also runs deep with a rich feeling of Americana. Other countries have their own car/road movies, but it's impossible to imagine this one being made anywhere else.
This is a pretty cool (in both senses, stylish and emotionally detached) film that reminded me a lot of other offbeat meandering character pieces Easy Rider and Five Easy Pieces. This one is interesting enough, but ultimately it didn't really resonate with me - the obsession of these characters and the way it breaks down in the presence of the possibility of affection and human relationships is a decent theme, but it didn't really have the poignancy or punch of other, greater films.
Like a meditation with roaring engines.
Post-68, defeated young men aimlessly race for money. Their revolutionary energy is sucked by roads and machines. That's why the girl is "exhausted", she is constantly sleeping or tired. She is attracted to anything that moves, that has life (but there is no hope anymore). GTO is also aimless, looking for a family (mother and two sons?), telling lies about shiny car movies he saw. But this is an anti-car movie in a sense, where Bresson and Antonioni come together in an existential journey.
Warren Oates is too cool....
GTO (Oates) is an old vulture whose life is a disappointment, so his MO is to associate with wandering youths (with added hopes of potentially fucking one of them). The two boys have tunnel-vision and obsess over cars, which doesn't seem to amount to much, for better or worse. The girl, probably the most sympathetic character, bounces from person to person, wandering and lonely. Why she's giving these losers the time of day, who knows. People mostly look the other way at her. Not a fun movie?
Existential angst in a '55 Chevy.
I'm not sure who's cooler, James Taylor, Warren Oates, or Harry Dean Stanton.
Three out of four main characters being empty shells doesn't really make for a great film. It's more of an interesting time capsule than an interesting movie. At least Warren Oates was there to save it for me.
"You can never go fast enough." Those words don't quite hit their full resonance until the final frames of the film. The driver is a quiet, steely-eyed man. He seems like nothing more than a skeleton with next to no qualities that could help form a personal connection. While this mostly remains true, it's a hell-bent desire to run that pushes his resolve and obsession. GTO provides some levity as a two-bit storyteller torn between dimestore rushes and settling. Stick with it, it's worth it.
Hmm, Got to say that I liked it. I went into it thinking I would be bored and end up hating it but strangely that never happened.
good, slow 70s movie, take your time, it's worth it
|Average Percentile 63.8% from 674 Ratings|