Five Easy Pieces (1970)

fiveeasypieces_1Starring Jack Nicholson, Karen Black, Susan Anspach, Lois Smith, Ralph Waite, Billy Green Bush, Fannie Flagg, William Challee, John Ryan, Marlena MacGuire, Sally Struthers

Directed by Bob Rafelson

Expectations: Moderate.

threestar


Sometimes you just can’t connect with a movie no matter how good it is, and this was my experience with Five Easy Pieces. I honestly don’t know what I think of the film. I didn’t like it much, that’s for sure, but to say it’s bad just because of that feels wrong. It’s not you Five Easy Pieces, it’s me. Due to this experience, my initial thought was to forgo my usual star rating and replace it with question-filled stars. But after writing the rough draft of this post I was able to wrangle my thoughts enough to rate it, so without further ado let’s get wrangling those thoughts and my initial indifference with Bob Rafelson’s Five Easy Pieces.

The film opens by introducing us to Bobby (Jack Nicholson), an oil worker in the central valley of California. He’s a blue-collar guy who enjoys more than his share of beer and women. He’s involved with Rayette (Karen Black), a diner waitress with dreams of becoming a country singer, but he doesn’t seem all that into her. Eventually we learn that there is more to Bobby than this working-class lifestyle suggests. He is actually a classically trained pianist from a wealthy, eccentric family, but he decided to give it all up and live a simpler, more down-to-earth life.

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The Hitcher (1986)

Starring Rutger Hauer, C. Thomas Howell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Jeffrey DeMunn, John M. Jackson, Billy Green Bush, Jack Thibeau, Armin Shimerman, Gene Davis

Directed by Robert Harmon

Expectations: High.


Calling The Hitcher a horror film is a stretch, but as it mostly trades in tension and suspense, and it features an ample amount of gore FX, I think it’s horrific enough to qualify. And let’s not forget all the wonderful explosions and car crashes, of which there are many. Yeah, The Hitcher is just as dope as everyone has led me to believe. Some stupid story elements hold it back from being pure gold, but these moments were never enough to quiet my love for the film. It’s a tense ride, and my predominant reaction to the film was, “Oh shit!” Seriously, every time I thought the main character was getting the upper hand there would come a glorious “Oh shit!” moment, and then Rutger Hauer would assert himself as the true badass of the film.

C. Thomas Howell is driving down a desert road late at night and is finding it hard to stay awake. Thinking it will help him remain conscious, he picks up a hitchhiker (Rutger Hauer) who quickly goes from nice to sadistic asshole. When Howell finds an opportunity to ditch Hauer, he takes it, and it starts a movie-long feud between the two that lasts until the bitter end. Hitchhiking fell out of favor a while ago, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this film had something to do with that, much like Jaws deterred people from the ocean waters.

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Critters (1986)

Starring Scott Grimes, Dee Wallace-Stone, M. Emmet Walsh, Don Keith Opper, Billy Green Bush, Terrence Mann, Ethan Phillips, Billy Zane

Directed by Stephen Herek

Expectations: Fairly high. I’d wanted to see this since I was a little kid.

On the general scale:
onehalfstar

On the B-movie scale:
twohalfstar


I’ve seen parts of this over the years but had never seen it all the way through. I gave it a go, but this is definitely one that would be better with a bunch of friends. It’s a horror comedy and my sights were set a bit more towards gore-fest. The key flaw to my logic though is that I never bothered to notice that this was PG-13. That would have tempered my expectations quite a bit, instead of building them up over the last couple of decades.

Basically, the Critters (or Crites, if you want to get technical) make a daring escape from a prison asteroid, stealing a spaceship. A couple of shapeshifting bounty hunters head off in pursuit. The Crites land on Earth, rural Kansas to be exact. It’s been a long flight and their little Critter bellies are rumbling. From here it devolves into a slight clone of Hitchcock’s The Birds, if the birds were prison-breaking, meat-chomping little furballs from space. I loved the opening of the movie, even if it does focus on the family a little too much. As the film dragged on, my bloodlust raged. “When will the Crites start chomping the innocents?” I thought.

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