Monday, May 27, 2013

The Last Picture Show (1971)

A group of teenagers come of age in a small Texas town and learn a lot of hard truths.

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Up until the late 1960's, American Cinema was firmly under the thumb of some rather rigid and naive censorship laws. You couldn't use dirty words, you couldn't show graphic violence and of course nudity was a major no-no. As a result, films of the time were not a very accurate representation for how people were really living. Bathrooms in films didn't even have toilets because obviously people don't urinate or defecate. It was a fantasy world that allowed people to pretend that they were better and more moral than they really were. It has also allowed people to conveniently miss-remember the past as, "the good old days" no matter how paranoid and oppressive they really were. Made three years after the end of the production code, The Last Picture Show serves as a sort of antidote to that fantasy world by employing the style of Classical Hollywood Cinema to tell a story set in a real past populated by real humans. It lulls you in with the black and white photography, small town setting and all those fine character actors, only to ambush you with dirty words and pubic hair. And that's the kind of sneak attack I can get behind!

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