I was a rider of trains last night, I took first one train and then another home from the station where I have my radio show once a week. From the radio station in suburb A, the city public transportation system has it such that I have to take a train all the way in to Boston to take a train to suburb B. The whole thing takes me an hour and a half to travel and as the time and neighborhoods pass I like to look out the windows and pretend I'm going fast and leaving something important behind. I've never been much into cars, but I think I get the appeal. We watched Top Gear on BBC America when I got home, where they applied vaseline to the camera lense to give it a soft focus as they revved engines, spun tricks and hugged curves. I dreamt of Two Lane Blacktop. Monte Hellman's 1971 minimalist roadtrip cult classic brings 60's counterculture into the open stretches of American highway. Starring musical icons James Taylor and The Beach Boys' Dennis Wilson, as well as film legends Warren Oates and Laurie Bird, the film has been such an inspiration that it spawned a musical tribute compilation in 2003 (with contributing artists like Cat Power, Calexico and Wilco) and was re-released as part of the Criterion Collection in 2007. Richard Linklater sums it up in his "15 Things I Love About Two Lane Blacktop".

Richard Linklater's Things I Love About Two-Lane Blacktop

Because it's the purest American road movie ever.
Because it's like a drive-in movie directed by a French New Wave director.
Because the only thing that can get between a boy and his car obsession is a girl, and Laurie Bird perfectly messes up the oneness between the Driver, the Mechanic, and their car.
Because Dennis Wilson gives the greatest performance ever by a driver.
Because James Taylor seems like a refugee from a Robert Bresson movie.
Because there was once a god who walked the Earth named Warren Oates.
Because there's a continuing controversy over who is the actual lead in this movie. There are different camps. Some say it's the '55 Chevy, some say it's the GTO.
Because it has the most purely cinematic ending in film history.
Because it's like a western. The guys are like old-time gunfighters, ready to out-draw the quickest gun in town. And they don't talk about old flames, but rather old cars they've had.
Because Warren Oates has a different cashmere sweater for every occasion. And of course the wet bar in the trunk.
Because unlike other films of the era with the designer alienation of the drug culture and the war protesters, this movie is about the alienation of everybody else, like Robert Frank's American Comes Alive.
Because Warren Oates, as GTO, orders a hamburger and an Alka Seltzer and says things like "Everything is going too fast and not fast enough."
Because it's both the last film of the '60s -- even though it came out in '71 -- but it's also the first film of the '70s. You know, that great era of "How the hell did they ever get that film made at a studio/Hollywood would never do that today" type of film.
Because engines have never sounded better in a movie.
Because these two young men on their trip to nowhere don't really know how to talk. The Driver doesn't really converse when he's behind the wheel, and the Mechanic doesn't really talk when he's working on the car. So this is primarily a visual, atmospheric experience. To watch this movie correctly is to become absorbed into it.
And, above all else, Two-Lane Blacktop goes all the way with its idea. And that's a rare thing in this world; a completely honest movie.

That having been said, I would also add to this list that it has an awesomely bad trailer (See Above.)


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