Saturday, September 13, 2008

I Know What it's Like to Be Dead

The Hired Hand (1971)
directed by Peter Fonda
rating: 2 out of 5 cravats
on DVD from Netflix

Unique because it's bolstered by Peter Fonda's smart collaborations: Vilmos Zsigmond, Warren Oates, Dean Wormer's wife. But so dreary! Fonda goes about it quietly enough (it's amazing how much he sounds like his dad), but he's the last wild child I need to see making sober apologies for 60s excess and abandonment. Which, as a strong "feminist" narrative - meaning Verna Bloom is stern and lonely - is where The Hired Hand tries to surpass the scope of its first small ambitions and turns the nice touches (soundtrack, camera, Fonda's beard) back into the drab dressings of too much ego. Over a modest hour and a half (you see how I'm inclined towards positive adjectives?), Fonda finally convinces you to withdraw the credit you lend him on the good faith of first impressions. Shoebox under the bed, kids.