Saturday, May 31, 2008

Piano Man: Five Easy Pieces

Maybe the perfect movie. The reason I say that is that it is everything a screenwriter could do right. Great character development, amazing scene building, genius "simplicity", a touch of biting satire, and a mix of music, love, and the thought of life itself. Jack Nicholson brilliantly plays Robert Dupea, a slacker who has a job at an oil site, who, during his free time, just drinks beer and socializes with his girlfriend Rayette (Karen Black, with a great charm) and his friend Elton (Billy Green Bush, who has a hilarious laugh). This involves some great scenes, especially a fantastic scene where Dupea drunkly plays Chopin on a piano on a truck in the middle of a traffic jam. Then, he goes to see his recording artist sister (Lois Smith) in Hollywood, and she tells him that they're father is sick, and that he should go see him. He quits his terrible job, hops into the car with his girl, and heads for Washington. If you expecting an emotional, heartfelt road trip movie to follow, you are way off. This brief road trip involves many great scenes, though, with hitchhikers and toast being primary. When he finally arrives (after dropping his girlfriend off in a motel room), his past catches up to him, and the thought that he could have been a great pianist turns sour, as he realizes how much that they are isolated from the world. He has a brief affair with his sister-in-law (Susan Aspauch), who is another charming character, who has a great scene with a photo montage, when she asks Bobby to play the piano. Finally, his girlfriend does arrive, and he also finds he doesn't want his two worlds to collide. So he once and for all leaves and hitches a ride with a trucker, finally doing his girlfriend a "good thing." That's the whole story. There is nothing to spoil about it. You need to see the movie to get the full effect. The characters in this movie are extremely memorable, but not to an extent where they are not believable. The sort of on and off rhythm of long and short takes completely suits the movie. Nicholson blew me away yet again with another great performance, possibly his most humane he's ever done. He is sometimes extremely emotional, sometimes totally "Jaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack", and sometimes in between. Black's performance works in the way that it is eccentric and believable at the same time, all the time. Another thing: the direction, by Bob Rafelson, is outstanding. He crafts the movie to it's full potential, and he knows how to make an iconic, emotional, and amazing movie. Bottom line: this movie shows you the subtleness that There Will Be Blood tried to capture, and turns into a masterpiece of excellence and great cinematography (done by Laszlo Kovacs), writing, and characters, a great title, great acting, and a heavy shot of human emotion, making one of the best movies of all time. A

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