A decade ago, I was a teenager in high school. I had my first job at my local movie theater and used my newfound disposable income to get a Netflix subscription.
Over the summer of 2004, 17/18 year old Matt wrote 21 movie reviews and posted them on IMDb. Recently, I dug up these reviews and decided to revisit each movie and evaluate how my tastes have changed over the last decade.
So for each of these posts, I will write a present-day review and then copy/paste the original review after. Then I’ll compare the two and give a summary at the end. You can find all the reviews here, follow me on Twitter here and check out The Obsessive Viewer Podcast here. Now, lets talk about The Last Picture Show.
My 2014 Review
The Last Picture Show tells the story of a group of teenagers in 1951 coming of age in a dying Texas town. It’s based on a novel that was followed by several sequels by Larry McMurtry. McMurtry wrote the screenplay with director Peter Bogdanovich. The movie focuses on Sonny (Timothy Bottoms), Duane (Jeff Bridges) and Jacy (Cybill Shepherd) as they navigate their lives into adulthood.
Sonny is a reserved, sensitive guy who exhibits restlessness toward the fading town of Anarene. He learns valuable lessons about life and what his future has in store for him through his mentor, Sam the Lion (Ben Johnson). Bottoms takes the introverted characteristics of the everyman, small town guy into a character brimming with frustration. His performance gives the audience a look into Anarene life that feels very real.
Duane is less introspective and more hard-nosed as he experiences relationship problems with Jacy and tries to find something that will make Anarene worth staying in. He has more of a “take charge” attitude than Sonny, so when things get bad for him, he finds a solution he thinks will suit him.
Jacy is the object of every boy in town’s affections. She’s at a crucial crossroads in her life where she discovers sexuality and the grim fact that she won’t get to leave Anarene unless she marries out. It’s highly depressing but rounds out a movie with several moving pieces that fit together to paint this grim picture of Anarene, Texas.
Bogdanovich’s use of black & white punctuates the bleak tones of the movie’s setting. It’s a choice Alexander Payne paid homage to with one of my favorite movies of last year, Nebraska. All told, it’s a depressing look at the heartbreaking reality of life in a small, economically infeasible town. The characters ride the highs and depressing lows of Anarene life while the audience gets a clear depiction of the town and the people who populate it.
Obsessive Grade: Buy it Full Price
Worthy of purchase regardless of price. But you’ll want to see it first, just to make sure you want it in your collection.
My 2004 Review
16 June 2004
*-Catch it on TV **-Worth a Rental ***-Buy It Used ****-Worthy of a Blind Buy
The Last Picture Show has been somewhat unattainable to me in the past year. I had heard about it through IMDB and was interested in seeing it. However, due to the fact that my local Family Video did not carry the film it drifted into the back of my mind. I joined Netflix last week and seized the opportunity to see this film. The Last Picture Show is a film about a small town in Texas in the 1950’s. Anarene, Texas is desolate and on the verge of becoming a ghost town. The teenagers in the town only have movies to keep them entertained. However, since the theatre is closing there seems to be a lot less to do. Timothy Bottoms is Sonny Crawford, the innocent teenager who is given the town’s poolhall and finds himself becoming a lifelong citizen of Anarene. Jeff Bridges is Duane Jackson, captain of the football team and dating the prettiest girl in town. Duane and Sonny are best friends and are both sick of the small town. Cybill Shepard makes her career debut as the beautiful Jacy Farrow. Jacy is the popular homecoming queen who is changing into the woman her mother has become.
All the performances are great and really get the point across. This is a very character driven film and the lives of the characters are handled with care. As the story progresses through football and basketball seasons and then towards graduation the characters change. They make choices that effect their futures. Sonny is the main focus of the film as he goes through losing a mentor, having an affair with his coach’s wife, and nearly distroying his friendship with Duane. You feel sorrow for Sonny as he ends one chapter of his life to begin another in the same place he was before. He is trapped in the town with no clear way of escaping. The script was adapted by Larry McMurtry and Peter Bogdanovich from a novel by the former. Bogdanovich also directed it. The direction in this film is as engrossing and interesting to watch as the story being told. All the shots, save for one, were filmed at eye-level which I think makes the film more personal and small.
Overall, I enjoyed the film. It was a well made character study that portrays the loneliness and boredom that surround the characters as they are confined to the small town. I rate it *** because it feels real in it’s portrayal of small town life in the 50’s.
Summing Up: Then and Now
Poor grammar and vague analysis aside, I guess my opinion of The Last Picture Show hasn’t changed much. It’s interesting to see what I focused on in this movie a decade ago versus now, I guess. Being 10 days shy of my 18th birthday and on the cusp of my senior year of high school may have made me feel uneasy about the changes I was about to experience. In the review I focus on the characters being stuck in Anarene. I don’t remember, specifically, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the movie resonated with me a bit more than it does now.
Regardless, whether it’s 2004 or 2014 I’m sure no one cares about my methods of movie rentals and consternation over waiting for a movie to be available to me. I honestly don’t think I had a lot to say about the movie then and chose that “anecdote” (I guess?) as a way to fill the review out. That’s my only explanation. For the record, though, in 2014 I watched a DVD copy of the movie, which I own and believe I ordered from Amazon about 8 or 9 years ago.