AFI's Top 100 Movies Chooch Movies

Review of Easy Rider, AFI #84

I have no problem admitting that I’ve been hitting the snooze bar on this movie. Like the French Connection, it’s exactly the type of movie I typically avoid. The super-stylized-for-the-period-in-which-it-is-made, can make for a great time capsule, but for future generations it can also be a barrier against viewing.

The thing that finally got me off my butt is finding out that it’s written and directed by Dennis Hopper. He’s been one of my favorite actors for decades, so it seems fitting to honor his recent passing (May 29, 2010 of cancer) by finally taking time to watch it. Also, I tend to have trouble getting into druggie movies. There are many I’ve just never bothered to watch, because I have difficulty empathizing with the characters or even having enough interest to try it out.

About halfway through and I’m bored out of my mind. The music is not enjoyable, nor does it seem to fit the mood of the scene in many cases. Chooch thinks it’s meant to be a soundtrack of the time period, but I can think of 20 examples of movies by less respected directors that have done it much better.

The camera angle and scene transitions are jarring, and the whole filming style reminds me of a movie acid movies, shot in a particular style to provide deeper enjoyment for those that were tripping on acid. Maybe you have to be stoned to enjoy Easy Rider? In which case, this is truly not the movie for me.

Jack Nicholson has now joined the traveling party and it’s interesting to see his distinctive acting style on such a young looking face. I’ve seen him in older movies of course (Little Shop of Horrors, 1960). While there’s an exaggerated sense to his character, it’s still the Jack Nicholson I know and respect. The beating and murder of his character is disjointed and anti-climactic, and I feel a bit cheated.

The most compelling part to watch was the graveyard acid trip scene, with the crazy cinematography and trying to figure out if the other people were hallucination or actual mourners being put upon by the stoners. I’ve always taken offense when people use graveyards and cemeteries as party locations, dating back to my teen years. They truly didn’t endear themselves to me in this scene either. But it was a kick to see Toni Basil and Karen Black during the scene.

I’m saddened that Chooch and I have gotten ahead of the “Watching 100 Movies Podcast” as I’m looking forward to hearing out Mike and Christiana’s opinions of the film. I’m utterly disappointed that the movie lived down to my expectations. I’m still not even sure what it was about, as it seemed to be Drug Deal, Travel the Country to Get to Mardi Gras, Drop Acid in a Graveyard at Mardi Gras and Die “Free.”

I’ll have to look up some other reviews and find out what I “didn’t get” from it, but I am glad we finally watched it so we can return it. Apologies to M.A. in PA who has been waiting on it.

And now bring on Titanic! I enjoyed the film when I saw it years ago and am curious to see how it holds up. Although, I’ve heard “My Heart Will Go On” enough times already so will have the ‘Mute’ button handy.

One reply on “Review of Easy Rider, AFI #84”

Again, I completely agree with Viv’s review. I had always been mildly interested in watching this movie, but the preview never grabbed me enough to start it. It was extremely light on plot, but as the grandaddy of most Road Trip movies I wasn’t expectinthough

The acting was good as were many of the visuals. I hated the flashing scene transitions though. It might have been super-groovy-high-tech at the time, but should have been used around the acid trip scene only, rather than the whole movie.

The ending was supposed to be ironic, or poetic – and it may just be my modern sensibility – but it simply fell flat for me.

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