Sometimes, just sometimes, the concept of the so-called “road movies” cross the boundaries of being a blissful masterpieces and turn into a complete waste, garbage of the worst sort, which is just unwatchable. And this time, I want to talk about the modern road cinema – we all know the classics, but my big concern was as it follows: is this sub-genre actually still alive? Times of lonesome drivers are quite gone in the cinema nowadays, hence the real road movies are a rather rare experience. If you love the road movies, maybe you will find something to watch this weekend. And if you love the ridiculous clunkers of cinema, I assure you it’s an article for you as well.
Let me start with the recent cinematic stuff – last week I was given an opportunity to watch “Mange tes morts” (2015), directed by Jean-Charles Hue. I found the first half an hour quite intriguing, developing an outre web of events – the plot focuses around a car-park-like village in France and one family with criminal background. All in all it is one busted flush, bursting with weak acting, fiddly storyline which aims towards nothing constructive and finishes as a flat, incomprehensive pulp. Not to mention the fact it was promoted as a riveting thriller praising the concept of road cinema, “Mange tes morts” is pure garbage. And even the sublime cinematography taste does not help in this one. After watching “Scenic Route” (2013), I felt exactly the same, with the exception of anything particularly good about it – one of the biggest flops of 2013 without a doubt. Hence it seems to be a fact, that directing a road movie is a breakneck task, especially nowadays, when audiences appreciate booming action, sex and lots of violence. Well, you can have sex in the car, you can punch someone too and you can drive fast – but that does not constitute the magic, which we are trying to extract, right?
My faith was restored by “The Rover” (2014). My review of this pure cinematography brilliance still awaits to be published, but trust me – this is one hell of a movie! Brutal, nostalgic, darksome, sometimes a bit edgy – David Michod (“Animal Kingdom” 2009) thriller grasps the attention from the very beginning. Strongly backed-up by astonishing roles of duo Pearce&Pattinson, “The Rover” encouraged me to give the modern road cinema a shot. A good choice to support the statement, that there is still hope, was 2009’s hit starring Viggo Mortensen, “The Road”. Post-apocalyptic, bleak landscape and human-eaters, walking around the desolate places, created a picturesque and interesting thriller and what is most important – not only the title matches the road-based concept of the movie.
Road movies are not necessarilly dark, lonesome journeys of wretched maniacs, killers or rovers, who’s got nothing to lose – not everyone are supposed to be Mad Max. Although this example might seem “a bit” crazy, Borat, portrayed by Sascha Baron Cohen, was also a perfect example of a road movie hero. The famous comedy document about a reporter from Kazakhstan, who visited the States to pick up ideas how to improve living standard in his own country, met with mixed reviews – either you loved “Borat” or you hated it whole-heartedly. The scene below is the introduction scene to the movie.
My special pick for this text is the tv series “Sons of Anarchy”. How not to love the motorcycle club gang story, an epic drama with one of the best (if not the all-time best) soundtracks ever created? Would be a disgrace, really. A long journey it is (lasts 6 seasons), but it’s worth giving it a try. And it is a beautiful tribute to the idea of a journey in the cinema – not only in terms of kilometers of highways, but this personal one, happening in the mind of each character.
Concluding, let’s melt away with the most remarkable picks from this sort of cinema – throwback time opened. My personal favorite is “Vanishing Point”, followed by “Mad Max” and “Easy Rider” – movies, which somehow defined the whole generation of alike films. And to finish, I have one ultimate conclusion: road cinema is not dead.