Hearing about tonight’s release party for the Criterion DVD of Monte Hellman‘s Two-Lane Blacktop nearly broke my heart. The party is happening right now at Crustacean in Beverly Hills, and the combination of free seafood and the company of people who know and genuinely care about an obscure 1971 road movie would be delightful.
I saw Two Lane Blacktop eons ago in New York. I don’t have a very vivid recollection, possibly due to some kind of hindrance at the time — fatigue, too much wine, bad mood — that dulled my concentration. It’ll be great to see it again all cleaned up, not to mention the loads of extras. We all know Blacktop has a tremendous lore. James Taylor, minimalism, Warren Oates, “the girl,” Dennis Wilson, the quiet of the lonesome highway.
DVD Beaver’s Gary Tooze has said that watching it “is like stepping back into a very cool era that seems farther away every day with our reliance on technology and lack of interaction with our environment and its inhabitants. This is more than a movie about cars. It says volumes about where we have come and nostalgic remembrances of what we have left behind. ‘Amateurish but in a profound way’ seems appropriate.”
I was told tonight by Boston Herald critic Jim Verniere that there are no — repeat, no — cool DVD stores in Boston. There used to be but no longer. No DVD culture, no wandering the aisles of some nook-and-cranny retailer, no atmosphere. It’s like hearing that all the Boston taverns have closed. A way of life is dying. Verniere orders online. Terrific.