LRFF Day 1: "The Last Ride" review | Rock Candy

Thursday, June 2, 2011

LRFF Day 1: "The Last Ride" review

Posted By on Thu, Jun 2, 2011 at 7:06 PM

lastride.jpg

I had some other duties I had to attend to today, including moderating a panel discussion on the West Memphis 3 and the media that Gerard got some footage of and will hopefully upload sometime soon, so here's a belated reaction to the festival's opening night film. Look for more coverage tonight, tomorrow and through the weekend.

If you're a part of the Arkansas film community, you'll probably want to see Harry Thomason's "The Last Ride." For one, it's a great primer on shooting a period road trip movie without leaving Pulaski County. You'll watch it like you're on a scavenger hunt: There's the covered bridge in Burns Park. There's downtown Argenta, even with brief glimpses of Cregeen's Irish Pub and Cornerstone Pub with Chris Denny's name on the marquee, standing in for downtown Knoxville, with North Little Rock City Hall doubling as a hotel. That's the bridge at the Old Mill that the main characters pee off of during a roadside bathroom break. And that's Cuz Fisher's, reborn briefly, for a diner scene. Also, you'll find plenty of familiar faces in the cast: Ray McKinnon, Natalie Canerday, Graham Gordy, David Bazzel, Gary Newton, Greg Spradlin, Jennifer Pierce and the late Rick Dial, just to name a few.

Otherwise, I can't think of any other reason to recommend this fictionalized take on the last days of Hank Williams. There's no character development. No conflict that's not formulaic. And the only action — some wild highway driving and a bar fight — looks like something out of a "Dukes of Hazzard" episode.

The film hinges on the relationship between Hank Williams (Henry Thomas) and Silas Combs (Jesse James), the clueless young mechanic hired to drive him to a series of concerts. Williams is ailing, drunk and ornery. Combs is fresh-faced and earnest. This is a formula you've seen before. But perhaps never this claustrophobically (most of the scenes take place in a Cadillac) with so little meaningful dialogue.

Here's the narrative arc, drawn from actual lines, or at least my memory of them (all are close): "You got a name, boy?" "You ever had a woman?" "I ain't never had a friend my whole life." "Are you my friend?"

I suspect I don't have to tell you what happens next.

Williams we're already invested in. We know that these are his final days, and just by trotting out an actor who bears passing resemblance and walks with a stiff back and plays drunk convincingly, the film reminds us of the sadness that comes with losing someone so talented at such a young age. The Combs character, based on the real life college student Hank Williams hired to drive him in his final days, exists in the film to humanize Williams. He needs little back story. But he can't merely be a dutiful cipher about whom next to nothing is revealed. For the film to work, we have to care about the character. But ultimately the role feels more like a device than any real person.

At the risk of piling on, many of the scenes in the car seem to be shot on green screen in a way that recalls '80s TV dramas (or Toonces the Driving Cat). And the plane sequence, based also on fact, surely warrants a spot in the pantheon of bad green screen scenes.

Obviously this was a low budget film. But if you don't have the money to do something right, why do it at all, particularly when it's not an integral part of the story?

Tags: , ,

From the ArkTimes store

Favorite

Comments (5)

Showing 1-5 of 5

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-5 of 5

Add a comment

More by Lindsey Millar

  • The Future of the LRSD Edition

    The Little Rock School District settling a racial bias lawsuit, the state board of education approving three new charter schools in Little Rock and the latest news on DACA — all covered on this week's podcast.
    • Sep 15, 2017
  • Walmart plans to build new HQ in Bentonville

    Walmart will build a new headquarters in Bentonville, CEO Doug McMillon said today. The project is expected to accommodate 14,000-17,000 employees, who are now spread among 20 buildings in Bentonville, Arkansas Business reports. It's expected to be built in stages and take five to seven years to be completed.
    • Sep 15, 2017
  • Huffington Post turns spotlight on Little Rock

    Huffington Post's Listen to America project is in Little Rock today. Along with KARK/Fox 16, it's hosting a panel discussion at Philander Smith College at 7 p.m. tonight. The stop-through coincided with a series of stories published on the HuffPost website
    • Sep 14, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

Most Shared

  • ASU to reap $3.69 million from estate of Jim and Wanda Lee Vaughn

    Arkansas State University announced today plans for spending an expected $3.69 million gift in the final distribution of the estate of Jim and Wanda Lee Vaughn, who died in 2013 and 2015 respectively.
  • Bad health care bill, again

    Wait! Postpone tax reform and everything else for a while longer because the Senate is going to try to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act one more time before September ends and while it can do it with the votes of only 50 senators.
  • Sex on campus

    Look, the Great Campus Rape Crisis was mainly hype all along. What Vice President Joe Biden described as an epidemic of sexual violence sweeping American college campuses in 2011 was vastly overstated.
  • The inadequate legacy of Brown

    LRSD continues to abdicate its responsibility to educate poor black students.

Most Viewed

  • Matt Damon to portray LR charlatan famed for goat testicle implants

    John Romulus Brinkley is one of Arkansas's greatest frauds, famed for his claim, fatal for some, that surgery to implant goat glands into testicles would restore virility. Thanks to the upcoming movie "Charlatan," we might get to see Matt Damon handling goat gonads, birthmoviesdeath.com reports.

Most Recent Comments

Blogroll

 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation