Review: Out of the Blue (1980)





Out of the Blue (1980), Dir. Dennis Hopper
Starring: Linda Manz, Dennis Hopper, Sharon Farrell, Don Gordon


In Hopper's first directorial work since his disastrous and aptly named The Last Movie (1971), a devastatingly convincing young Linda Manz plays 15-year-old Cebe, a punk-obsessed young girl. She waits for her deadbeat dad, played by Hopper, to get out of prison for making a careless and tragic mistake. She has constant escape plans from her increasingly dysfunctional family and backwater town, putting on a deeply androgynous tough-guy demeanour that we eventually learn the heartbreaking origin of. She delves deeper into her infatuation with Elvis Presley and repeats the same few nihilistic phrases with a certain innocent meaninglessness - "Disco sucks! Kill all hippies!" - amusing, certainly, from Dennis Hopper, a director who pioneered the original flower-child counterculture everywhere from the cinema to the front lines of the civil rights movement. This may very well be telling - an expression of Hopper's disillusionment with the countercultural movements that came along; each less coherent or expressive or politically important than the last. Cebe's terrible journey, punctuated by Hopper's lyrical cinematography, is highlighted by the washed-out colour palette and the crackling, unpredictable menace Hopper himself emanates onscreen. The haunting Neil Young soundtrack and unerring performances lend to a shattering, grim finale. Whether expressing disgust with the regressive American underclass or pontificating on the futility of rebellious subcultures, Out of the Blue serves as a wonderful late-in-the-period example of the Hollywood New Wave. It belongs, thematically and aesthetically, to the tradition of mid-70's BBS productions, and evidences what a spectacular loss Dennis Hopper was to Hollywood for nearly a decade of absence.



 

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