Monday, June 20, 2011

Monte Hellman: Dead End to a Dossier (The Road to Nowhere)

     The Road to Nowhere, Shannyn Sossamon, Monterey Media.

The voluptuous compass of the 1970s live on in the hearts and minds of cinephiles everywhere. Some of our remaining masters hail from that decade; Malick, Allen and Scorsese permeate with the enrichments of that pivotal period. Many of the great auteurs still working from that time are relatively obscure, hence Alan Rudolph, Abel Ferrara, James Toback and our artist of the moment, Monte Hellman.

Hellman rose from the Corman ranks of B picture glory to direct some of the most fascinating rotgut riviera pulp fictions of the 60s to the 80s. The Shooting(1966) remains one of the brilliant westerns encountered; Two Lane Blacktop(1972) has reached the realms of the unreal insofar as drive-in cult meets Bressonian austerity. Later on, before he started teaching at University, he triumphed with the disturbing Iguana(1989).
His signature is muscular, stripped down, existential and circular narratives detailing the detritus of life and cinema and everything in between. His major influence is forgotten studio maven John Huston and his classic thrillers Key Largo and The Asphalt Jungle.

All of this to do makes his newest feature, The Road to Nowhere, an even bigger disappointment. A promising concept which Hellman's guidance cannot save, this film within a film/backstage story/true crime mystery never can quite figure out what it wants to be or where it is going. A bad script and worse acting drags many gorgeously textured digital images into the oblivion suggested by the title.

Which is to say that this Road is the worst film Hellman has ever been apart of. Shannyn Sossamon is an underrated actress cast adrift in a dead end noir wannabe. Hopefully Hellman has more in him than this complete waste, a master's misfire and one of the most punishing film experiences of the year.

1 comment:

  1. hate to say i toldya so!
    yes, very disappointing, and surprisingly horrid.