Eight years before Francis Coppolas Apocalypse Now, Dennis Hopper got lost in a celluloid jungle born from his own messianic, movie-mad imagination. The result was The Last Movie (1971), in which Hoppers transient cowboy (known only as Kansas) literally rides on to the set of a Sam Fuller western shooting in Peru, gets hired as a stuntman, falls in love with a local, finds himself a pawn in a fellow soldier-of-fortunes gold-prospecting scheme, and eventually lands back in screenland this time as the sacrificial star of the Peruvian villagers own opera prima, filmed with a scrap-metal movie camera and a preference for real blood over fake. Assembled by Hopper from some 40 hours of dailies during a year in the editing room, the movie is nothing if not audacious so much so that you may find yourself craving convention. Chronology and continuity are strictly for sissies here: The opening title doesnt appear until 25 minutes in, around the time Kris Kristofferson turns up (for no apparent reason) singing Me and Bobby McGee. The themes are like, heavy, man (religion as myth, moviemaking as religion, the soullessness of Hollywood, the exploitation of everybody by everybody else); the movie itself almost impervious to criticism. Its at once a masterpiece and a folly, profound and inane, a resurrection and a death-dream. The Last Movie indeed: When a final title card announces End!, its impossible to determine whether its a declaration or an imperative. (Cinefamily at the Silent Movie Theatre; Fri., Apr. 4, 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. www.silentmovietheatre.com)
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