12/10/2006: "Out of the Blue: A Masterpiece of a Movie"

music: My, My, Hey, Hey (Out of the Blue)- Neil Young

Dennis Hopper's Out of the Blue is a disturbing movie. This is ugly material he's dealing with, and he neither shys away nor does it ever feel like exploitation.

The central character is Cebe (Linda Manz) a 15 year old wannabe Punk who acts tough, idolizes Johnny Rotten, Elvis, and her father, and sucks her thumb. Five years ago her father, a truck driver, was drinking on the job and crashed into a school bus. In the present she's pretty much on her own, putting on a fasade to hide from the more pathetic aspects of her life. I don't know how old Linda Manz was when this was filmed (three years earlier, she played the love interest of Richard Gere AND Sam Shepard in Children of Heaven), but she is completly convincing as a vulnerable teenager. She dissolves into all the personallity traits and annoying habits and makes the climatic ending believeable. She is sympathetic while at the same time invoking pity and disgust.

Dennis Hopper does quite well here, both directing, and acting (he plays the prodigal father). As a director Hopper once again (after the sublime Easy Rider), that he knows what he's doing. His use of music highlights the sadness inherent in the story, and he just lets lets the scenes play out to their natural extend- particularily the tense and violent family scenes. It's painful to watch, but brutally honest and well done. Hopper's performance as Don is one of his best. He finds a note between his spaced out biker in Easy Rider, his sad sack alcoholic in Hoosiers, and yes, a bit of Frank Booth. In a scene with his buddy in the bar, we get a sense of incredible sadness. And in his angry scenes he is truly frightening, in a real sense.

It's a tragic movie, covering some very disturbing subject matter, with all the tension beneath the surface finally exploding in a shocking and heartwrenching climax.

To quote Jack Nicholson, "This film is a masterpiece."