Saturday, September 16, 2006

The Hired Hand (1971)

So Easy Rider (not really one of my favorite films) gave free reign not only to Dennis Hopper to make a great film of 1971, but also Peter Fonda! The Hired Hand is less impressive than The Last Movie to my eyes, but overall it's a very beautiful film. It's lyrical but not idly so (its lyricism is part of a system). I feel like Dennis Hopper may have been something like the Tasmanian Devil on the set of The Last Movie, perhaps not a control freak but a tyrant of sorts. Fonda seems to have trusted the talents of his collaborators (Zsigmond, editor Mazzola, the cast), one could conceivably pay attention to a specific aspect of the film at the expense of the others (cinematography, musical score) and say something complimentary about it (whereas it's difficult to do this with Last Movie) ... but the film still retains the impression of unity and coherence, a singular dedication to this story that is also a reflection on its own archetypes (despite the fact that this is a laconic work, what a forthright & revealing handful of conversations the characters have about their own relationships!). Then there is an "honest day's work"--it's always refreshing to see work portrayed in a movie, too often it's glossed over as a matter of narrative inconvenience.

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