60/60 Review #41: Easy Rider.

For the first time in this project, I've stumbled across a movie... that doesn't really fit in the category in which I put it (which is so not my fault based on the movies it kept being lumped with). There are some crimes in the movie (drug selling and use among other things), but it's not a crime movie. That being said, it's on my list, so I must review it. However, it's not really a film that can be easily reviewed. First off, there's not really a story. Taking place in the 60s, the film begins as Wyatt (Peter Fonda, who also co-wrote) and Billy (Dennis Hopper, who also co-wrote and directed) sell some cocaine and make some cash. They decide to take the money, get on their motorcycles, and travel halfway across the country from L.A. to New Orleans to experience Mardi Gras. Along the way, they meet a bunch of people, including George (Jack Nicholson), and smoke a lot of weed and discuss life, the universe, and everything.

Being born in 1986, I obviously have no personal connection to the 60s. And by and large, this film is a testament to the times and the lifestyles (and/or counter-lifestyles) of people in that day and age. It's a counterculture film that studies and explores the nature of freedom. And while some of these notions still ring true today (Nicholson's speech on fear and individual freedom is fantastic), there were still a handful of things that made me tilt my head. I mean, I grew up in south Texas, so for a bunch of rednecks to get nasty and violent to people because their hair is long and they ride a motorcycle (particularly the lengths it goes to) blows my mind.

The visual style of the film is both a highlight and a downside. The actual visuals were gorgeous, really highlighting some amazing locations in the American countryside. And as the majority of the film is them riding along to classic music with these places in the background, you get to see a lot of it. The part of the visuals that bothered me was more technical. There were some uses of the camera as well as the way the film was edited that bothered me. Throughout the film, there would be these kind of... strobe-light transitions where clips of another scene would flash in and out of the current scene before finally making a transition--I didn't like that at all.

As there's very little story and a minute amount of dialogue (this was apparently only a partial screenplay, and the majority of the film was adlibbed), the bulk of the film's success banked on its actors. Fortunately, everybody is pretty top notch. There are maybe two very brief moments where it's not that great, but for the most part... it's pretty dang good. I don't know if they sucked me in enough for the ending to get the payoff it wanted, but it was somewhat close.

Here's the big "unfortunately," though. On the whole, I recognize it as a well-made film, and I see its importance and status to the overall history of film and culture. It just wasn't my cup of tea, as it were. This is purely a position of preference. There was very little I disliked on the whole, and I wasn't really bored through it. It's just that this is not the type of movie I enjoy on an entertainment level. I respect it, and I "get" it as much as a guy not from that time can "get" it, I just... didn't fall in love with it. Because of that, I'm rating this film more on an entertainment scale than a quality scale--just know that this rating does not encapsulate my feelings on whether it is good or bad, but rather how it worked for me.

I Am McLovin!

1 comment:

  1. BUT it is cool. Soon as steppenwolf hits I was sold. The 60s and all of its hypocrisys are summarized in this film and we see the tragic outcome. One of my favourite films and I'm surprised you didn't like it as much! Nicholson's profound points ... the crazy drug binge ... the stunning landscapes of the US. Brilliant film.


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