Screening Room: ‘Lucky’

In Lucky, Harry Dean Stanton plays an aged loner coming to terms with mortality in a small desert town. He smokes, wanders, sings in a beautifully ragged way, and dispenses whacked-out Zen koans about life. In other words, a not-so-out-there version of Stanton himself. Also, David Lynch plays a man in a white suit who is upset over losing his best friend, a tortoise.

All in all, it’s a fitting sendoff for the great actor, who passed away earlier this month at the age of 91.

Lucky is opening this week in limited release. My review is at Film Journal International:

…there is something in [Stanton’s] wide, seeking eyes, hollow cheeks and storyteller’s presence that made him seem like some wasteland troubadour long before Wim Wenders had him amble out of the sandy flats at the start of Paris, Texas. It’s fitting, then, that he spends most of John Carroll Lynch’s directorial debut, Lucky, walking the streets of a small desert town and communicating as little as is absolutely necessary. Sure, Stanton might be from Kentucky originally, but he wears a cowboy’s hat, jeans and boots as though he were born in them…

Here’s the trailer:

New in Theaters: ‘Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction’

Nastassja Kinski with Harry Dean Stanton in his signature scene from 'Paris, Texas.'
Nastassja Kinski with Harry Dean Stanton in his signature scene from ‘Paris, Texas.’

harry_dean_stanton_partly_fictionWith over 100 credits in everything from avant-garde 1970s Westerns to Wim Wenders arthouse films to The Avengers, Harry Dean Stanton is one of those character actors they don’t seem to make much anymore. And they certainly don’t make movies about. Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction is one of those rare treats that true movie fans are tossed every now and again which almost makes up for the vale of iniquity that is modern cinema.

It’s playing now in limited release. My review is at Film Journal International; here’s part:

When Sophie Huber’s downbeat and jazzy Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction works, it’s almost by happenstance, like catching a glimpse of something beautiful out of the corner of your eye. Of course, as with most works of art that seem to be beautiful accidents, it’s artfully crafted down to the smallest detail…

You can watch the trailer here:

Or, for a real treat, check out his full climactic monologue from Paris, Texas:


New on DVD: ‘Repo Man’

Emilio Estevez gives his best punk-rock face in 'Repo Man'
Emilio Estevez gives his best punk-rock face in ‘Repo Man’

repoman-dvdAt first it might seem strange that the folks over at Criterion would bother putting out an edition of Repo Man. After all, isn’t it really a film meant to be watched on a bad $2 bargain-bin DVD or a miserably grainy VHS tape from a decades-old cable broadcast? Possibly, but on new viewing, this is one of those cult films that actually deserves getting this treatment, brand-spanking new transfer, deleted scenes and all.

From my review at Film Racket:

The scuzz-punk doom comedy of Alex Cox’s 1984 underground touchstone makes for a creepy visitation from a fracturing society. Released at the midpoint of the Reagan era’s celebration of suburban consumerism, it had a gutter-level view of Los Angeles’ bleached-out sprawl and social entropy. Its characters tend toward the feral: repo men who hunt the cars whose owners can’t pay up, shotgun-toting punks, cold-eyed federal agents, or bugged-out cult followers. Hints of an oppressive police state are everywhere, and the scent of nuclear apocalypse is on the land. In the middle of all the science-fiction-tinged end-times bleakness, though, Cox mines a catchphrase-studded seam of absurdist humor that’s one of the film’s most durable qualities…

Here’s the trailer, in all its grotty gloriousness: