Classic Rave

Saw Five Easy Pieces at the Grand Illusion (I am not kidding when I say that I have seen television sets larger than the screen there). I've got a soft spot for the film, ever since freshman year, when I wrote a paper on the chicken-salad-sandwich scene. The paper was for a philosophy class; my central thesis was that Bobby Dupea (the Jack Nicholson character) is meant as a representation of the Nietzschean Overman. The good grade I got on it probably did more than anything else before or since to disillusion me about academia; it certainly didn't make me take Nietzsche any more seriously. Seeing the movie again has only made me more ashamed; I'm even more painfully aware of how profoundly dumb the whole paper was, how almost steotypically freshman its pretentions (I was being self-mocking, sure, with things like "the restrictive last-man morality of her restaurant/society," but there was an element of trying to be like the big boys in there, too).

That said, I'd like to run through a few of the things that are great about the film. Jack Nicholson, with his amazing presence, but back in the days before the ego was everything. The San Juan Islands, beautiful even in continual fog. "Doorframe Girl," in the immortal words of Sarah, who introduced me to the film in the first place. The unforced surprise of the scene when they come for Elton. Bobby's spastic explosion behind the wheel of his parked car. That Chopin pan, the best piece of storytelling through pure camerawork of all time. The highway scene with the piano on the truck. The one lesbian hitchhiker's endless rant about filth. The muted unfolding of the first half, and the perfect pacing of the second half. And, of course, the screenplay, with its half-filled in conversations and wonderful little nuggets of dialogue.