Monday, April 16, 2012

The Last Picture Show

I am working my way through, in no particular order, The American Film Institute's 100 years, 100 movies- The Definitive List of Classic American Films. Number 95 on that list is 1971's The Last Picture Show.
The film's 40th anniversary was last year and it was re-released in the UK and Ireland (to rather glowing reviews). It was actually this review in The Independent that piqued my curiosity about this movie....

Set in the early 1950s, it takes on significant themes – frustration and longing, youth and age, memory and mortality – but in a quiet, modest way, and its humility becomes extraordinarily affecting. Timothy Bottoms and Jeff Bridges play the central friends, two undistinguished high-school athletes who loaf about their windblown, one-horse town and wonder about their future: the only fun to be had is in the decrepit pool hall and the old cinema, both run by the benign, mysterious Sam (Ben Johnson) whose haunting presence is the film's beating heart. Cybill Shepherd, as the girl both boys fall for, is at her most beautiful and spoilt – a heartless Texan temptress – though it's the older women who really come through: Ellen Burstyn as Shepherd's mother, Eileen Brennan as the wise waitress, and, heart-breakingly, Cloris Leachman as the older woman desperate for love (she and Johnson both deservedly won Best Supporting Oscars). Bogdanovich directs them all beautifully (in black and white), gives everything its proper weight, and speaks profoundly of loss, leave-taking, last things. - Anthony Quinn, The Independent

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