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Five Easy Pieces at 50: a troubling yet thrilling arrival of a new leading man | Film

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In This is Spinal Tap, Nigel Tufnel, the lead guitarist of the world’s loudest rock band, surprises the film’s director, Marty DiBergi, with a delicate piano composition that seems far removed from the heavy-metal sludge of songs like Hell Hole, Sex Farm, and Big Bottom. Nigel refers to it as a “Mach” piece – a fusion of Mozart and Bach – and intends it as part of a musical trilogy in D minor, which he calls “the saddest of all keys”. DiBergi thinks the piece is beautiful and asked him what it’s called. Nigel stops chewing his gum momentarily and deadpans: “Oh, this piece is called Lick My Love Pump.”

Perhaps the similarities are merely coincidental, but the most important scene in Five Easy Pieces plays out in essentially the same way. Only here it’s Jack Nicholson behind the keys as Bobby Dupea, doing a soulful rendition of Chopin’s Prelude in E Minor, which at a minimum sounds like the second saddest of all keys. Though part of an upper-class family of classical musicians, Bobby hasn’t sat on a piano bench since returning to home to Puget Sound, Washington, but he’s willing to make an exception for his brother’s fiancee, Catherine (Susan Anspach), because he wants to get laid. (That’s another thing he and a rock musician like Nigel have in common.)

The performance moves Catherine to tears, just as Bobby intended, but her reaction stirs the contempt and self-loathing that’s always simmering below the surface. He tells her it’s the easiest piece he could think of, and that he played it better when he was eight years old. If she believes it reflects some heretofore masked inner feeling, she is mistaken. “I faked a little Chopin,” he says. “You faked a big response.” That doesn’t mean Catherine is wrong to notice some flicker of soul in that moment – later scenes reveal that he really does feel something for her – but Bobby has spent his adult life trying to extinguish it. He won’t allow her to see the real him, whoever that might be.

Fifty years later, Five Easy Pieces still puts us in Catherine’s shoes, puzzling over this charismatic mess of a human being. After spending the better part of the 60s stealing scenes in independent films like Little Shop of Horrors and Easy Rider, Jack Nicholson announced himself as a leading man with Bobby Dupea – and, in turn, introduced a decade where flawed characters like him were possible. In the hands of a lesser actor – or even a very good actor – Bobby could come off as a sour, abusive drip, unworthy of our interest, much less our sympathy. But Nicholson plays the audience like Bobby doing Prelude in E Minor, utterly confident that he’ll seduce us into caring about a man who’s incapable of returning the love he attracts so effortlessly.

The timing of Five Easy Pieces is uncanny, coming just after a decade spent by Nicholson in independent cinema – before he was truly ready to infiltrate Hollywood in the 70s. Though the film was distributed by Columbia Pictures, the production company behind it – then called Raybert Productions and later known as BBS Productions (for producers Bob Rafelson, Bert Schneider and Stephen Blaunder) – was a flag-bearer for New Hollywood, which would import the exciting, iconoclastic work coming out of Europe at the time. Rafelson, who directed, and the screenwriter Adrien Joyce (AKA Carole Eastman), who had written The Shooting for Nicholson and the director Monte Hellman three years earlier, made a film of almost radical modesty, a character study with the richness and interiority of a great novel.

And as with all great novels, it’s the smallest details that matter. The earliest scenes in Five Easy Pieces set the parameters of Bobby’s blue-collar life around the oilfields of Kern county, California: the grueling physicality of working on a rig; his contentious domestic life with Rayette (Karen Black), a waitress he’s comfortable mistreating; a bowling outing during which he insults Rayette while flirting shamelessly with the women in an adjacent lane. It isn’t until later, when he meets his sister Tita (Lois Smith) at a recording studio in Los Angeles, that we learn that he’s running from his past as a classical pianist of impressive musical stock. When Bobby learns that his distant father has suffered a debilitating stroke, he makes the drive to Puget Sound for a visit. But he’s so intent on separating his past from his present that he deposits Rayette in a motel and heads to the island alone.

rayette and bobby hug



Karen Black as Rayette Dipesto with Nicholson. Photograph: Everett Collection / Rex Feature

The big standalone scene seems like an anomaly, with Bobby castigating a waitress for not allowing him to order a simple side of toast with his omelet. His workaround for the restaurant’s “no substitutions” policy is to ask for a chicken salad sandwich sans everything – “I want you to hold it between your knees,” he says of the chicken – and he winds up sweeping the waters across the table in frustration. It’s a funny moment in a film with few of them, but it’s also Bobby in a nutshell: it’s no coincidence that he’s directing his anger toward a woman who shares his girlfriend’s occupation. It’s not out of character for him to combust so dramatically. And, in the end, he doesn’t even get the toast he wanted.

But who knows what he wants? Bobby operates by impulse, which allows him to chase short-term desires like bedding women and getting toast with his omelet, but leaves him existentially adrift. Unlike the restlessness in a film like Easy Rider, which looks dangerous and cool and a lot like freedom, Five Easy Pieces is about the terrible uncertainty of being unmoored from any kind of satisfying life. The masterful closing sequence, like an elegant short story in itself, leaves the impression that Bobby will never find one, either. It’s possible to see Five Easy Pieces as representing the fallout after a turbulent decade – akin to the “what now?” final shot of The Graduate – but that would deny the specificity of a film that actively resists making statements. If it was representative of anything, it was the potential of what American film could be.


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Emily In Paris Star Lucas Bravo On Fame

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If you’re one of the many people who’s watched Netflix’s Emily in Paris, you’ll recognize Lucas Bravo as Gabriel. But even though the show’s been a trending topic, the France native hasn’t been able to celebrate yet because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I’m in my lonely hotel room,” he said, giving a life update to People. “I’m just going from set to the hotel and back and forth.”

“The show just came out and there’s a lot of attention,” he said. “But at the same time, I’m just very lonely in my room. So it’s really weird to navigate these two contrasts at the same time.”

“Of course, with the way the show is received, I cannot escape it,” he said. “But I’m just so happy and grateful and it’s very humbling to see how people are responding to it.”

Lucas says he’s happy the show has been able to provide “an escape from this crazy year we’re all having.” He added, “[Fans are] telling me that they enjoyed Gabriel’s portrayal, so it’s really great.”

If you’re one of those people, here’s some good news: He’s currently working on his next film called Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris.

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Jared Leto Will Be The Joker Again For Justice League

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Time to get twisted—again.

The Joker is one of the most iconic villains in the Batman universe, and he’s been subject to many memorable portrayals. There was Jack Nicholson’s take on the character in Tim Burton’s 1989 film Batman

And then there was Heath Ledger’s unforgettable performance as the Joker for Christopher Nolan’s 2008 film The Dark Knight


Warner Bros. / Giphy

Ledger also won a posthumous Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his unsettling portrayal.

Eight years later, Jared Leto stepped into the Joker’s shoes for the 2016 supervillain caper Suicide Squad

And of course, there was Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker portrayal for last year’s—wait for it—Joker.


Warner Bros. / Giphy

Like Ledger before him, Phoenix also won an Oscar — Best Actor — for his performance.

Let’s switch gears for a minute: After director Zack Snyder stepped down from 2017’s Justice League mid-shooting and was replaced by Joss Whedon, who basically scrapped everything that Zack had shot and essentially changed the whole film.


Clay Enos / Warner Bros / Everett Collection

Since the release of Justice League was meet with a less than lukewarm reception, fans begged for the true “Snyder cut” of the DC Extended Universe film. Earlier this year, Snyder made their dreams come true by announcing that he’d be bringing his own cut of the film to HBO Max in 2021, complete with reshoots.

This month, reshoots for Zack Snyder’s Justice League (which will air as a four-part limited series) began—and today, The Hollywood Reporter announced that none other than Leto (who didn’t appear in the original cut of Justice League) is returning to re-infuse the DC Extended Universe with his own twisted take on the Joker.

What could this possibly mean for Snyder’s cut of Justice League? Only time will tell, so just sit back and put on a happy face.

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Twilight Jasper In Horror Movie Do Not Reply

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I can’t look at Twilight the same way now.

Greetings, internet friends! Like many of us, I had a Twilight phase growing up. I was Team Jacob (sorry, Edward), but I was also pretty obsessed with another member of the Cullen family: Jasper Hale (played by Jackson Rathbone).

So, when I found a new horror movie on Amazon Prime with Jackson Rathbone, I knew I had to write about it. Plus, my favorite Degrassi actor (Amanda Arcuri) is also in it! TRULY made for me personally.

It’s called Do Not Reply and it’s…really something. Here’s the trailer and description:

View this video on YouTube


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“Chelsea falls prey to a social media predator. She meets Brad at a Halloween party and is forced to stay in his fortified house with other girls who Brad plans to kill in his virtual reality murders.”

So without further ado, here’s a recap of the movie and all my thoughts that nobody asked for!


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Obviously, spoilers ahead!

Alright, I…didn’t expect that to be the first line of this movie.


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Here’s our main character Chelsea, her parents, and her sister Kristina. Their dad is away in the army and Chelsea is all sad because she hates Kristina. I thought maybe they were step-siblings, but nah, they’re just sisters who really hate each other, I guess.


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We’re not even five minutes in, but holy crap, Kristina seems like the most insufferable person in the world. No wonder Chelsea hates living with her.


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Alright, so Chelsea’s friend Mia dragged her to this double date movie night thing. But now she’s ditching Chelsea to go hook up with her BF and Chelsea doesn’t seem into her date at all.


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How do teens in these movies always magically have access to an empty house and really nice alcohol? I remember taking a shot of peppermint schnapps before my boyfriend’s parents got home, not making a whole bar of nice mixed drinks.

A couple of days later, Chelsea’s in trouble with her mom, she and Mia are fighting, Kristina’s still mean, and everything just, like, generally sucks. So she starts messaging with an anonymous guy online named, um…”VRCOWBOY.” I’m sure he’s totally fine and not a catfish.


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Teen angst, ya love to see it!

This guy says his name is Brad and that he’s 17 too, but he won’t show Chelsea his face because “his phone camera is broken.” Sureeee. They make plans to meet up at this Halloween carnival, and all the alarm bells in my head are going WEEOOH WEEOOH.


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Do they not have social media in this universe?

Chelsea takes a bus by herself on Halloween night to go meet Brad. She’s dressed as a zombie cheerleader and he’s dressed as a…zombie football player.


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Brad offers her a drink, which I do not trust one bit. Yeah, there’s definitely something in there…


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Okay, yeah, Brad definitely drugged her. Now he’s guiding her around the carnival while she’s in a daze, and — did he just throw her in the back of his car?! Holy crap, that escalated quickly.


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Chelsea wakes up chained in a creepy basement. Brad’s taken off his zombie makeup and now he’s calling Chelsea “Sadie.” I am confusion.


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Wait, there’s another girl here too!!! And her name is…Sadie? And she tells Chelsea that her name is also Sadie now? WHY IS EVERYONE NAMED SADIE??


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This is reminding me of that one SpongeBob episode: “He’s Squidward, he’s Squidward, you’re Squidward, I’M SQUIDWARD! ARE THERE ANY OTHER SQUIDWARDS I SHOULD KNOW ABOUT?”

I’m gonna have nightmares about this house. I can’t explain why, but for some reason it reminds me of the house from that Cat in the Hat movie.


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Meanwhile, we see that Brad has this ridiculously freaky virtual reality helmet, which he uses to act out his killing fantasies.


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Okay, so we finally got some answers on this whole “Sadie” thing. I guess Brad had an adoptive sister named Sadie who he was in love with. I’m not really sure what happened to the real Sadie, but I guess now Brad is dressing the girls up to look like his sister. Also, Chelsea’s blonde now, guys.


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Creepiness factor: 100,000.

Whoa, there’s another girl! She’s super injured and can’t get out of bed. Chelsea goes to help her, and um…


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WELL, THAT WAS RUDE. I think she probably just thinks Chelsea is someone else though, since they’re all dressed the exact same.

Now Brad is letting them have “outside time,” which is apparently when he lets them use his VR goggles to look at fake ducks. Btw, it looks like there are four girls in the house in total.


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Well, at least the food looks good here.


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OH, SHIT. BRAD JUST KILLED ONE OF THE GIRLS.


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Now he’s standing over Chelsea, watching her sleep. I’m getting major Twilight flashbacks.


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Things are getting dark now. We learn that the injured girl’s real name is Tina and her backstory is really sad. She knows she’s not going to survive, so she asks Chelsea to help her find pills to end it all. Chelsea doesn’t want to at first, but ends up helping her. But then Brad catches them, and tries to kill them both.


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Brad goes to murder Tina, and — wait, Chelsea tells him she wants to kill Tina for him, I guess out of mercy for her. Tina agrees, and Chelsea smothers her with a pillow. Yeah, this got DARK.

Now that Brad trusts Chelsea, he shows her the VR footage of that other girl being killed. He thinks they’re “bonding” or whatever, but Chelsea’s only flirting with him so she can get on his good side and get TF out of there.


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And the award for the most uncomfortable kiss ever goes to…

Man, we’re down to just two girls now. Does the other girl just, like, not wonder where everyone else went?


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Chelsea finally manages to get the other girl to wake up when she shows her the VR footage of the murders. They plan to escape, but before they can even get anywhere, Brad catches them and drags them into his creepy killer lair.


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Oh, now we finally get the full backstory on what happened to the real Sadie. We see in a flashback that Brad murdered their mother so that he and Sadie could be together, but then Sadie slit her throat in front of him, saying she would rather die than be with him. YIKES.


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Oh, thank god, they managed to escape the evil basement lair and get Brad’s keys. But before they can make a run for it…


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GET HIM, CHELSEA!!!!


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Okay, they escaped! Damn, imagine you’re just taking your baby out for a nice morning stroll and two girls in cheerleading uniforms run out covered in blood and screaming.


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Honestly, more horror movies should end with everyone getting therapy like this.


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Aaaand that’s a wrap!!!


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Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go have a drink to try and recover from this. Maybe three.

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