Sunday, December 18, 2011

OUT OF THE BLUE (1980) - Dennis Hopper


Out of the Blue is a movie so bursting with life it has no choice but to extinguish itself in the end. Like the opening images of bad dad Hopper and his precocious daughter drinking and laughing in a tow truck as they hurtle towards the mother of all drunk driving accidents, the film is on a collision course with its own wild energies from the very first frames. I've never seen a movie so exuberant yet predicated on the massacre a yellow school bus full of children. It's unrepentant, unapologetic. It's some kind of malevolent masterpiece.

It's also FULL of Linda Manz, a young actor who is very FULL of herself (both a good thing and a bad thing). And therefore Out of the Blue is FULL OF ITSELF. It's constantly copping a punk pose, wearing its fuck-you attitude on its sleeve, constantly assuring you what a rebel it is, like an annoying adolescent who just heard the Sex Pistols for the very first time and popped a safety pin through its OshKosh B'Goshes. You love Out of the Blue for its spunkiness, but also want to smack it on its precocious ass, send it to bed without supper.

Then there's the repeated Neil Young needle drops. From Easy Rider to Colors, Hopper has never been subtle when it comes to scoring his films with rock standards and HEAVILY underlining their themes in lyric. Don't misread me-- I love Neil Young and especially "Hey Hey, My My," the title song that gets repeated ad nauseum throughout. But do I need to hear little Linda Manz threaten another teenage girl with the words "I'll take you out of the blue and put you into the black," echoing the songs lyrics near verbatim? Then have Hopper play the song in the transition that follows? Rust Never Sleeps, but neither does Dennis' insistence on reinforcing the obvious.

Somehow, all this thematic headbutting works for the film, as does Dennis' warts-and-all portrayal of the completely repellent Don. This may be Hopper's most despicable character of all time, more so than the raving, laughing gas-inhaling Frank Booth in Blue Velvet, more than the feckless, blow-up doll fondling Feck in River's Edge. When the father of one of the deceased kids Don killed in the school bus crash comes looking for an apology, Hopper humiliates the guy in front of his friends, then conks him over the head. Out of the Blue does the same thing to you as viewer. It's improvisational filmmaking as blunt force trauma, the bash to brainpan you're happy to receive.

1 comment:

mdv718 said...

this film is in my top five of all time. i agree with all your cons, but to me they become pros. one of the few (two) films i have turned andrew on to. (the other was piano teacher).