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Two-Lane Blacktop [DVD]
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Cult road trip movie starring James Taylor and Dennis Wilson in the two lead roles. Two car enthusiasts, secure in the knowledge that nobody has a ride like their 1955 Chevy, cruise around America looking for gullible marks to race. The Driver (Taylor) and The Mechanic (Wilson) pick up a winsome hitchhiker (Laurie Bird) who's soon enamoured by their dedication to their machine. One day they meet their future likeness, ageing pump jockey GTO (Warren Oates), at a remote gas stand. His tales of hot rods past and his younger years spent under the hood and behind the wheel of classic Yankee iron, captivate the boys. Unbeknownst to them though, he's a liar, and soon they're locked in a race to The Capitol with him with the keys to their Chevy and the jockey's '70 Pontiac GTO hanging on the balance.
James Taylor is The Driver, a car-obsessed racer with stringy hair and a concentration that precludes conversation. He travels the backroads of rural America with his buddy, The Mechanic, (Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys), an equally obsessed lost soul at home only in the car or under the hood. They have no names, only designations, and no life outside of their gypsy existence, riding the unending highway in their souped-up '55 Chevy from race to race. After picking up a hitchhiking Girl (Laurie Bird), whose presence breaks the tunnel-vision focus of the two men, they challenge a middle-aged hotshot, the garrulous G.T.O. (Warren Oates) to a cross-country race. Monte Hellman's Two-Lane Blacktop is the most alienated evocation of modern America ever made, an almost abstract study in dislocation and obsession set against a vague landscape of roadside diners and rest stops. Taylor and Wilson deliver appropriately blank performances, only expressing emotion when The Girl sparks jealousy between them. Oates is a glib dynamo constructing a new persona in every scene, as if trying on characters to play as he ping-pongs between the coasts. "How fast does it go?" asks The Driver, admiring G.T.O.'s car. "Fast enough," he answers. The Driver snaps, "You can never go fast enough." These are characters on the road to nowhere who can't work up enough speed to escape themselves. --Sean AxmakerSee all Product description
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This re-defined for me what film making can be. It's not like anything else I've seen (including films made after it), although directors like Jarmusch obviously share some of Hellman's values.
It was on my "must see before I die" list for years, and I was prepared for it to fail to meet the hype. In fact, I think it far exceeds it: a classic, a milestone, a must for everyone with a serious interest (whatever that is) in film.
The beauty of it for me is that the scenes are not all jammed up with boring attention grabbing shock tactics, but allow the viewer some space to get absorbed into it,so after a while you end up on the road with the movie itself which is ultimately more engaging and satisfying than being force fed visual adrenalin.
To sum up if you prefer deft characterisations,roaring V8 engines and entertaining realism this is a movie for you, if you've got a digitally reduced attention span you'll probably miss the point.
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