Two-Lane Blacktop

This exciting existentialist road movie by Monte Hellman, with a sharp script by Rudolph Wurlitzer and Will Corry has my favorite Warren Oates performance and looks even better now than it did in 1971, though it was pretty interesting back then as well. James Taylor and Dennis Wilson are the drivers of a supercharged ’55 Chevy, and Oates is the owner of a new GTO (these nameless characters are in fact identified only by the cars they drive). They meet and agree to race from New Mexico to the east coast, though side interests periodically distract them, including various hitchhikers, among them Laurie Bird. (Oates hilariously assumes a new identity every time he picks up a new passenger, rather like the amorphous narrator in Wurlitzer’s novel Nog.) The unsettling thing about this movie is that it starts off as a narrative but gradually grows into something much more abstract; that’s what’s beautiful about it as well. Facets Multimedia Center, 1517 W. Fullerton, Friday, November 1, 7:00 and 9:00; Saturday and Sunday, November 2 and 3, 3:00, 5:00, 7:00, and 9:00; and Monday through Thursday, November 4 through 7, 7:00 and 9:00; 773-281-4114.

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