Two Lane Blacktop
Directed by Monte Hellman
Running time: 102 minutes
A classic American road movie, Two-Lane Blacktop (1971) was declared film of the year by Esquire magazine before its release in 1971, but then bombed at the theatres and was a commercial failure. Directed by Monte Hellman, it subsequently became a cult classic and stars singer-songwriter James Taylor along with the Beach Boys' drummer Denis Wilson in their only acting roles. Taylor and Wilson play 'Driver' and 'Mechanic' (in the film, first names are never revealed), two car-head drifters who spend their time wandering from town to town, challenging people to impromptu drag races. While going East from Los Angeles, they meet Warren Oates in a 1970 Pontiac GTO and challenge him to a cross-country race. Oates suggests Washington DC since that is where he is going anyway and the trio agree to race for 'pink slips' or legal ownership of the loser's car. A chase ensues with the requisite adventures along the way, including encounters with a female and male hitch-hiker (Laurie Bird and Harry Dean Stanton respectively), amid a nostalgia saturated landscape of pre-interstate route '66 America. With its abstract camera direction, wide-screen views of beautiful landscape and minimal dialogue, Two-Lane Blacktop is an artful and poignant film and as well as a frank study of male obsession. A stark road movie with existential leanings – in the same mould as Easy Rider and Vanishing Point – the film features a classic soundtrack with songs by Arlo Guthrie, Kris Kristofferson and The Doors, and is one of the artistic high points of 1970s American cinema.
Reservation is not necessary, but places are limited. Please arrive early to avoid disappointment.