The Last Movie – Review
by David Lothian
This is not the amyl-huffing, psychopathic Hopper of Blue Velvet, nor the chilled-out roadster Hopper of Easy Rider. This is something completely different.
Indeed, if there is one positive thing to be said about The Last Movie, it is that you’ll never have seen anything like it. What looks on paper like a fairly simple and satirical look at the process of movie-making from the point of view of a lowly stuntman (Hopper), actually is a head-achingly bizarre and disappointingly pretentious experiment in show-offishness. Dennis Hopper had 100% final cut and creative control on the project so that, without anything holding him back, he produced his “vision” outside of any reasonable limits and with an annoying disregard towards his audience.
We are treated to loose plot threads that go nowhere, scenes placed frustratingly out of joint in an attempt at satirising film edits, boringly predictable art film imagery, and a general feel that all this could have been so much better. As a restoration, much like as a film in general, its sleek looks far outweigh its strange, strange story. And whilst the satire remains relevant for today’s audiences, the wanna-be individualist style comes off as stale and arrogant.
Hopper’s performance is by far the best part of the film (if you’re a fan, you will definitely find some enjoyment in simply watching him react to the film’s nonsensical goings on). His naturalistic acting, quick cowboy wit, and moments of madness are a welcome break from the main star of the show: the same man’s ego. Other positives include strong supporting performances from players Stella Garcia as Kansas’s (Hopper’s) materialistic girlfriend and Tomas Milian as the village’s tortured priest, some satisfying (if on-the-nose), prop and set design, and a scene of skin-crawling social commentary in a seedy Peruvian brothel.
The Last Movie, however, was a definite disappointment with not even the admittedly hilarious final scene able to clear the air in the cinema when we had finished up. Just watch a western instead.