TWO-LANE BLACKTOP

year: 1971
cast: James Taylor, Dennis Wilson, Warren Oates
director: Monte Hellman
rating: ****1/2

James Taylor and Dennis Wilson's non-acting doesn't matter as they're part of the car and feel as the car feels on a first-person i.e. first-vehicle narrative through America. To counter-balance the purposeful non-acting there's legendary Warren Oates, providing not only the baseline but acting as both catylist and antagonist as two cars: the Chevy (Taylor, Wilson) and the GTO (Oates) "race" cross country for pink slips; stopping along the way in various small towns for local races. Laurie Bird is a pretty, dim-bulb hitchiker whose acting's on par with Wilson more than Taylor; yet if real actors sat in Taylor, Wilson, or Bird's seats perhaps the documentary real-life aura would be gone. What we have is an ueber-realistic, organically textured, subtly spellbinding journey with one basic (if primal) objective: to keep moving.

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