I like the 21st Century. The movies they make today may be crap, but I can actually watch the movies they made when they weren't making crap. I can guarantee you if I was actually living in, say, 1970, I wouldn't be able to see the movies they made in 1970, unless I flew to Cannes or lived with a cinema-owner or something.
Courtesy of Netflix, I've been catching up on the groovy movies.
First, Two Lane Blacktop (1971). This is a road movie, a genre in which (apparently) the landscape is a character, and the humans characters go on a journey to find themselves. Often they find themselves in the Mojave desert in a diner shaped like a cigar, and if they do, this would be where the scenery would get its big Oscar nom for Best Supporting Actor. In general, road movies are all very much like looking out of a car window, except the car isn't in lane 4 of the I-405, which my car usually is.
In the grand tradition of road movies, nothing actually happens in Two Lane Blacktop. (I think I once went to an all nighter of road movies, and I remember nothing happening being an important theme.) However, it was continually interesting to watch James Taylor and Beach Boy Dennis Wilson as the leads in the movie. For some reason I like watching video of people I only know from music and still photos, though I still would have preferred it if something had occurred. Perhaps, for instance, they could have gone to a 'haunted house' and found out the 'ghost' was a man who coveted his uncle's inheritance, and at the end the man could have said, "I would have gotten away with it too, if it wasn't for you meddling kids!"
I jest, of course. The Philip Glass-like minimalism hides a complex substructure, evidenced mainly by the choice of fantasy the GTO driver spins as he talks to his hitchhikers. There's a 2001-style stateliness to it that rewards someone with the patience to watch carefully. Me, I just prefer to have my complex substructure macaroni'd with daleks, trebuchets and clever puns. I guess that's why I like The Road Warrior; Mad Max's road journey to find himself used the de rigeur tropes of nitrous oxide injection, souped-up Fords, masculine angst and long deserted roads but... also involved hundreds of bisexual leather-clad wrestlers on motorcycles fighting with crossbows and sawn-off shotguns! Perfect!
The President's Analyst (1967). A feast of paranioa, spy vs. spy, shrink humor and tremendous sight gags. Certainly the funniest 'hippie-freak-out' scene on film. (The hippies come tumbling straight outta Cafe Wha' - the movie certainly knows its counterculture.) The president's analyst, of course, knows all the president's secrets. Russians and American Secret Servicemen - and British MI6, and even the Canadians - try to capture him. Or, kill him. Not surprisingly, the analyst becomes paranoid - and, because of National Security, he's the only man in America who can't see a shrink about it.
In amongst all of this, there's Barry (Eve of Destruction) McGuire as Old Wrangler. And there's a crazy Cyberpunk ending. Yes, I know cyberpunk wasn't invented until 1982. The movie really was before its time. The ending is still in the process of coming true. It reminded me of Top Secret! but is far less innocent. And James Coburn is always cool.