Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Tuesday's Overlooked Film: Dennis Hopper: Out of the Blue

Dennis Hopper made only a few films as a director. His third directorial effort was Out of the Blue (1980) that has largely almost duplicated his earlier film's, The Last Movie's fate: the film hasn't really been available to audiences for many years. I've heard there has been a dismal DVD release, but I hadn't seen the film myself before this week's Monday when I had a chance to see it on big screen, on 35 mm film. The film was made in Canada and shot in British Columbia and Vancouver. Hopper clearly couldn't have made this in Hollywood.

Out of the Blue is a restless film about a young girl called Cebe who lives in a dysfunctional family (well, he has Dennis Hopper as her father, right?) and is interested only in Elvis and punk rock. She keeps saying things like "subvert normality" and "disco sucks" and "kill all hippies!" Her father is released from jail, and the family pretends everything's normal. There's even some criminal stuff, but the story doesn't focus on it.

The film is very non-dramatic. Nothing much happens, and seems like Hopper has allowed his actors to improvise. This could be fatal, but it works here, since the acting reflects the free-flowing narration. The film has quite an experimental soundtrack, since there are scenes with two different pieces of music playing at the same time, and the actors also speak over each other almost all the time. This all makes the film a bit jarring, but it's also quite effective and even funny at times, with Hopper pouring liquor all over his face and shouting and stuff like that.  The shots are quite long and there are elaborate camera drives and pans, which makes clear the film wasn't made sloppily and on a whim.

Out of the Blue is a very depressing film and it ends with a very tragic climax. Hopper refuses to give an explanation to the tragedy, which makes it even more depressing. There are some scenes with punk bands of the era, mainly the Canadian Pointed Sticks playing two songs, and they are great, energetic powerpop anthems! Check them out!

Here's a pretty good essay on the film. There's a Kickstarter project to restore the film and release it in 4K Blu-ray.

More Overlooked Films at Todd Mason's blog (later, it seems).