Posts Tagged ‘counterculture’

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SHOCKING PINK: ‘BACK ISSUES: THE HUSTLER MAGAZINE STORY’

 

 

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Anyone who used to hang around the video store has probably already seen this twisted take on the 60s.

 

Gotta say I preferred Dirty Duck though. But hold on, there’s more.  I was a bit nervous even clicking on this one.  Talk about exploitation, now I have to find a copy of this and see for myself…

 

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A film 50 years past its expiration date?

I got the feeling that this didn’t translate well, and that the main draw was in the poetic language of the prose. The characters are dismal and pointless for the most part. The plot is slim to none.

What the book is famous for is opening up new possibilities to the squares of the early 50s. It was a stifling time of conformity and blinkers. Kerouac is credited with going the opposite way and pushing the boundaries of what people expected America to be. Obsessed with jazz and inebriation, he made an homage to this counterculture in the form of a rambling poem/journal.

Kerouac was apparently smitten with his friend, a charismatic grifter type who felt no responsibility to anyone or anything, named Dean Moriarty. The story seems to take a perspective on Moriarty, painting him as an immature sociopath.

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Only, it’s not enough to keep this thing interesting. I may be jaded in the modern age where a lot of shit happens on screen. In that I’m not alone. This story was simply aimed at another time and another place. The revelations weren’t particularly shocking or poignant. The statements made weren’t particularly groundbreaking.

What’s more it felt episodic and repetitive. A lot of driving around the country, endless miles, but why? A pointless randomness guides these people, and that was once hailed as revolutionary or unique, but it seems more lame and wasteful now. I don’t mind the idea of going out exploring, but these characters don’t find anything, not anything noteworthy. Their little lives are sad perhaps, but not the stuff of legend.

So in the end it felt like much ado about nothing.

2/5

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To me, a film is great if you’re still thinking about the ideas it dramatized twenty years later. Night of the Living Dead (1968) for example wouldn’t remain such a haunting masterpiece if not for the parallels the drama brought out, such as willful self-deception when family members are involved and, of course, race. If the lead character, played by Duane Jones, had been a flavor of the week pretty white boy (the Hollywood standard), I doubt the film would matter all that much to so many people. Such brilliance as casting the protagonist with a black man, surrounded by frantic and often irrational white people, elevated the film to its esteemed status.

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Easy Rider is also a masterpiece, and is one of the 1960’s most salient time capsules. Not quite realistic, but hyper-real. It captured the spirit of an era, with a war of ideas concerning society, concerning America and the types of people found here. It focused on two outsiders, the two motorcycle-riding drug dealers who take off across the southwest in search of a place they can settle down in and call home. They went “looking for America” and I do believe they found it.

This was Dennis Hopper’s directorial debut, and of course, Hopper also co-stars in this extensive road movie done for $360,000. Estimates of its returns are listed as $60,000,000, making this one for aspiring indie filmmakers to take notes on. The film succeeded for its artistry, for its musical score which is superb and includes classics of the era, and for its hard edged story.

Hopper refused to pull his punches. With a script by Peter Fonda and Terry Southern, as well as himself, the story doesn’t attempt to gloss over anything. For this rawness and unflinching look at the conflicts of the age, the movie received several nominations and wins, including at Cannes.

SPOILERS AHEAD

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