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FOFF Programs

Jun 4, 2008: 7:00pm
Roxie Cinema
3117 16th Street
San Francisco

The Last Movie (1971) by Dennis Hopper 108 min. Color 35mm
Almost from the outset of his acting career, Dennis Hopper earned a reputation as rebellious, egotistical, and drug-addled. By channeling these qualities into his directorial debut, Easy Rider, he created perhaps the most iconic and profitable counter-culture movie ever, and helped launch the phenomenon known as "New Hollywood". Studio heads, eager to cash in on this success, yet out of touch with youth tastes and changing mores, gave Hopper a million-dollar budget and carte blanche to produce a follow-up hit.

Here was Hopper's opportunity to develop an idea he had hatched on a Mexico location shoot several years prior: when the film crew departs, leaving the sets behind, is this not a form of cultural imperialism? This is the point of departure of The Last Movie.

When an ill-fated Samuel Fuller-helmed western pulls out of a small Peruvian village, stuntman Kansas (Hopper) stays behind, shacking up with a local whore and pursuing a crass expatriate version of the American Dream. While Kansas goes native on his own terms, the natives, fascinated by the novelty of cinema, resurrect the aborted film shoot in tribal fashion, enacting rituals of real violence before jerry-built prop cameras.

With multiple meta-narratives encircling this radical inversion of the cinematic apparatus, it's no wonder that the film implodes, beautifully, spectacularly, under the weight of its own contradictions.

True to its thematic conflation of the processes and products of cinema, The Last Movie's chaos was mirrored in the conditions of its filming--a confused, sex-, drug-, and paranoia-fueled bacchanal. Hopper kept this up the 18 or so months he spent cloistered at home in Taos editing his opus, under the influence of Bruce Conner and Alejandro Jodorowsky (El Topo).

Thrust upon a public expecting Easy Rider-style hippie quaintness, this confounding masterpiece ensured Hopper would not work again in Hollywood for nearly a decade.

"No other studio-released film of the period is quite so formally audacious." -Jonathan Rosenbaum

Grand Prize winner, Venice Film Festival, 1971