Thursday, December 3, 2015

#568: Two-Lane Blacktop

1971, TSPDT Rank #482

Two-Lane Blacktop is widely considered one of the best road movies of all time, however, those expecting a lot of car-chases and non-stop action will likely be disappointed. Nevertheless, as a timely portrait of early 1970s malaise and disillusionment, this film is highly effective and even enjoyable - with top performances by musicians James Taylor and Dennis Wilson, as well as the always great Warren Oates and a brief but memorable appearance by the one and only Harry Dean Stanton. Then there's the sound of roaring motors, the characters' stoic desperation, and the poetic utilization of the open road as a grand metaphor. It plays like a cross between Monte Hellman's existential westerns of the 1960s and Dennis Hopper's Easy Rider - another quintessential road movie that captured the mood of America at the end of that decade. Kris Kristofferson's song "Me and Bobby McGee", which features in a pivotal scene in the film, sums it up best: "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose..."

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