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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Stay Hungry (1976)

Stay HungryStarring Jeff Bridges, Sally Field, Arnold Schwarzenegger, R.G. Armstrong, Robert Englund, Helena Kallianiotes, Roger E. Mosley, Woodrow Parfrey, Scatman Crothers, Kathleen Miller, Fannie Flagg

Directed by Bob Rafelson

Expectations: Low. I just expect to see some good, young Arnold.

twohalfstar


Geez, what a weird movie. Its tone is pretty heavily in the drama department, but at times it ventures so far into absurd comedy that it’s hard not to shake your head and cautiously laugh. What’s even odder is that the film’s best and most successful bit of comedy comes right amidst the most fucked up dramatic situation, so laughing at it just seems wrong and out of place. It’s genuinely funny (strangely enough in something of a Hercules in New York kinda way), but due to the tone of everything surrounding it, it’s hard to understand what the filmmakers were going for.

Stay Hungry is about Craig Blake (Jeff Bridges), a rich kid who’s had everything given to him his whole life. His parents have just died and now he’s in charge of their estate. For some reason, he’s working for a real estate agency that is buying up properties for some shady reason I didn’t specifically pick up on. They need Blake to convince the owner of the Olympic Spa to sell his place to them, but because he’s got no ambition to do anything, he doesn’t much care about buying the place. Instead, he decides to befriend the people there, specifically Joe Santo (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and Mary Tate (Sally Field), and see where that leads. He’s just so carefree, man.

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