Bold, brilliant, and like nothing that came before it. I was hooked from the moment Steppenwolf’s ‘Born to be Wild’ kicked off, the first of many excellent songs on the soundtrack to accompany the mesmerising visuals of roads and landscapes. It’s about counterculture and drugs and authority and the great gulf within (or on the margins of) American society; but most of all, it’s about America itself at the tail end of the ’60s. It has moments of incredible clarity, deep sadness, overwhelming joy, and utter confusion, yet somehow it remains tight and cohesive. As far as acting goes, Peter Fonda and Jack Nicholson are perfect, and Dennis Hopper is quite good too; but Hopper’s real strength here lies in his innovative yet assured direction. Easy Rider is iconic for very good reasons, not least of which is its role in starting the ‘New Hollywood’ movement that completely transformed cinema and made it what it is today, but what’s striking is how well it holds up as a piece of thought-provoking entertainment. Highly recommended to anyone who hasn’t seen it; I sincerely regret waiting as long as I did to check it out.
Hugely enjoyable mix of two genres: the western and the buddy comedy. The tone is perfect, mixing wisecrackery and a real sense of fun with occasional peril, solid relationship drama, and an underlying feeling of times lost. The jaunty soundtrack and lovely locations help, as does the unmistakable chemistry between the two lead actors. “Who ARE those guys??”
Simple but powerful story of a troubled young boy with no prospects who finds a passion – and one thing he’s good at – when he begins to train a wild falcon. Its strength lies in its attention to detail, its low-key, matter-of-fact style, and its undeniable verisimilitude; it presents an utterly convincing depiction of working class life, education and poverty in rural England. David Bradley is excellent in the lead role. Often slow and rarely exciting, it still managed not only to hold my attention but also to move me.
Yet another of those old-fashioned British costume dramas, this one is a solid retelling of the story of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. Richard Burton and Geneviève Bujold are very good in the lead roles, but interestingly, according to the IMDb trivia listing for the movie, Burton hated it and his performance (despite the Oscar nomination he got for it). Anthony Quayle, who I recognised from Lawrence of Arabia, does a much better job as Cardinal Wolsey than Orson Welles did in A Man for All Seasons, though I’ll grant Quayle has much more screen time to work with. A nice quote from the movie version of Henry: “Divorce is like killing: after the first time, it doesn’t seem so difficult”.