May 29, 2010

Dennis Hopper - An instrumental icon in my filmic education

I thought I'd start off with my first non-Bollywood post with Dennis Hopper, because my love for films and the counterculture of the 60's and 70's started with Dennis Hopper. I'm not gonna pretend I knew him and fawn like a pretentious critic, but suffice it to say that i really respected his films and choices. I first happened upon Dennis Hopper late at night in a movie called Rebel Without a Cause, sure I was more focused on James Dean but Dennis made an impact with his side role as one of the way toooo old high schoolers in the film. In a far fetched way, Dennis like the late Macmohan only needed a few scenes to establish a presence. But I'd like to recount some of his key films that made me watch anything just for that lovely hippy voice!

1. Rumble Fish - many people would not have mentioned this small role in Francis Ford Coppola's teen film, but it was a good role for Dennis because you could see why Matt Dillon and Mickey Rourke's characters were so misguided and foolish, with a deadbeat alcoholic father. To be honest Dennis was one the best things in this film because he imbued such pathos to such a broken character.
2. Apocalypse Now - Now this is one of Hopper's best performances ever, he plays the fool in General Kurtz's mental kingdom, and its pretty wonderful to see him flex his Method muscles against the king of Method, Marlon Brando. His crazy character is a perfect example of what being in the jungles with Kurtz for too long. One of my favorite roles of his!

3. Easy Rider - One of the key films in my life, I watched this on the big screen at the Cinematheque once and it was just a transcendental experience for me. The first time i saw this I immediately recognized the dynamite power of the film, it had an aimless narrative, but it conveyed soo much about the heady times of 60's. The music, the ending, the script they all endure all these years later, and simply Hopper made a historical document of those times. This is definitely one of my favorites of all time. Thank you for that Mr Hopper!
4. True Romance - One of the most epic scenes between two excellent actors Dennis Hopper and Christopher Walken was in this Quentin Tarantino script. That fruity dialogue between the two which was largely improvised was just cinematic magic, to see to giants of American cinema cut loose and have some fun, it was just great!

Well there you have some of my favorite roles of Dennis Hopper, truly an icon in my books and one of the key figures in my cinematic odyssey! What are some of your favorite roles of his?

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