Precious Bodily Fluids

The Last Picture Show: Bogged-down-a-bit

The overly proverbial movie about movies and endings and movies ending…and life and endings and lives ending. Bogdanovich has always loved his auteurs and wanted nothing more than to be one of them. The Last Picture Show is proof of that. It isn’t that this is is a “bad” film, or anything like that. There does come a point, however, when one wonders what a “good” film is, and how it differs from something that strongly resembles a “good” film. (There have arguably been too many ramblings elsewhere here about the idea of what constitutes a good film. So we’ll bypass it this time.) The Last Picture Show feels like one of those that was designed to win awards, to be called the Citizen Kane of the next generation, and so on. It’s more freewheeling and open-ended than Golden Age classics, and it’s in black and white (thanks to Mr. Welles himself), so it apparently embraces the old while reluctantly ushering in the new. But there is only a weak substance here, it would seem: morally removed half-critiques of small town life and the 50s generation, a shameful portrait of the sickness of youthful eros (nothing more or less than the quintessentially pubescent failure to keep one’s pants on), and a sorrowful acquiescence to the fatalistic repetition of all things (what they want us to believe is “the circle of life”). It’s a boy’s or a man’s world despite attempts from girls and women to play in it. They’re the ones who get hurt, the ones who are destined to fail, the ones who throw coffee pots against the wall and can only inherit things (which subsequently fail, too) from men. The failure of anything to change is all that gets the blood flowing in The Last Picture Show, and then only barely. American Graffiti grapples with some of this but far less pretentiously, and with a kind of concluding hinge transitioning into a different kind of life. It says something while this film is a lament over there not being anything left to say. Bogdanovich is an elegiac sort of guy – he apparently can’t name a great film any later than the 50s, unless it was directed by someone who thrived in an earlier time.


That 70s movie

Hot legacy

Just what the Dr. ordered


When I was your age




Where there's smoke


This entry was published on June 14, 2010 at 11:41 am. It’s filed under 1970s Cinema, American film and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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