Classic Film Review : Five Easy Pieces (1970)

IMDB Score – 7.5
Rotten Tomato Score – 86%
Academy Award Nominee for Best Picture, Best Actor (Jack Nicholson), Best Supporting Actress (Karen Black), Best Original Screenplay
Netflix Watch Instant

Directed By – Bob Rafelson
Starring – Jack Nicholson, Karen Black, Bill Green Bush, Susan Anspach, Sally Struthers, Ralph Waite, and Lois Smith

A drop-out from upper-class America picks up work along the way on oil-rigs when his life isn’t spent in a squalid succession of bars, motels, and other points of interest.

I have a confession to make. I actually watch two films before this one and I’m not going to write about them because I didn’t enjoy them like I thought I would and even so, I have no idea what the hell I’d write about. The films are “El Topo” and “The Holy Mountain”. What batshit insane films. The only way that I’ll watch those again is if I’m wasted and it’s okay to shout. I’m still going to watch “Santa Sangre” though. I just felt like disclosing that.

What is it about Jack Nicholson when he was young in which I instantly see Jack Torrance in every one of his roles. It’s easy to see how perfect he was for that role because you can see little pieces of Jack in all his characters. This is no different. Jack plays Bobby, a, well, he’s a dick. The film starts out with him working on an oil rig and being a total bastard to his girlfriend Rayette, played by Karen Black. Rayette is a dumb southern belle who doesn’t know what the hell is good for her and puts up with his shit until Bobby gets word his father is ill and they both ride up to Washington to see him.

The film marks the first award nomination for Jack in the Best Actor category and although he didn’t win, gave one hell of a performance. The transformation he goes through, or seems to go through during the film was heavily helped by Jack’s performance as the direction of the film was just kinda of shabby. The story was interesting but the camera work and editing was flat as it left me a bit confused when the scenes changed. It wasn’t a fluid transition. Besides Black, Susan Anspach gave a great performance as the wife of Bobby’s brother, a woman who would go toe to toe with Nicholson on more than one occasion and hold up to him.

The film ended up being a nice watch for fans of acting and the ending to the film, while a little bleak, was fitting and true to the character of Bobby. The film was also one of the beginning films that started a new era of Hollywood. It’s just a shame Rafelson couldn’t join the ranks of Hal Ashby and other great directors of that time. He tried though.


Suggested Viewing – Last Picture Show, Midnight Cowboy, Paris Texas

Documentary Review : A Band Called Death (2013)

IMDB Score – 7.4
Rotten Tomato Score – 96%
Netflix Watch Instant

Directed By – Mark Christopher Covino and Jeff Howlett
Starring – Bobby, David, and Dannis Hckney

A documentary on the 1970s punk trio Death, and their new found popularity decades after they disbanded.

I’ve never been a fan of punk rock. I always understood the value of rebelling against social and political norms but musically I just have always found punk to be to bland. To me, the good punk bands are the ones who either came first or blended other sounds with the generic punk sound. Bands like The Ramones, The Clash, The Talking Heads, and now, Death, are all the type of punk that I like. I’m not going to try to sound cool by claiming that I knew about death before seeing this film. I stumbled across them about two years ago and then when my computer crashed with all my music on it, I failed to reconnect with the band. This documentary just reinvigorated my interest in one of the coolest sounding bands of the ’70s I’ve ever heard.

The film tells the story from the beginning and since the band consists of all brothers, mixes in their family life as well as their musical backgrounds. Music really isn’t the driving force of this film. Spirituality and family are huge themes as the two surviving brothers relive their story of practicing in small apartments and getting denied every way they turned. The name “Death” doesn’t really appeal to a lot of people and in the ’70s I’d say those numbers are significantly less. The story behind the name all goes back to the bands unofficial leader David Hackney. His story is really the one being told and the emotions that go with it surprised me. I was getting very choked up watching everything unfold as tragedy and distance combine to make this a very up and down film. In the end it ended up being a film that is both hopeful and uplifting while also being very powerful and sad.

It’s one of my favorites of the year and should really be check out by anybody who has a Netflix account.