The Last Movie at HOME

Tom Grieve, Cinema Editor

The Last Movie at HOME Manchester, Manchester 14 — 20 December 2018 Tickets from £5.5 — Book now

That’s what’s wrong: we brought the movies.

Difficult to see for so long, Dennis Hopper’s 1971 The Last Movie arrives at HOME courtesy of a pristine new restoration. In the wake of the runaway success of Easy Rider, Universal famously handed Hopper a million dollars and asked for more of the same. What they got was a messy, debauched vision of post-hippy aimlessness set at a fictional movie location in remotest Peru. Elusive and frequently maddening, The Last Movie takes aim at ideas of masculinity, America and at the corrupting power of industrial cinema. It was far from the hip, existential road movie that had made so much money. Despite winning the Critics Prize at the Venice Film Festival, the suits were decidedly unimpressed and the film came to symbolise the worst of New Hollywood indulgence.

Working on both sides of the camera, Hopper stars as Kansas, an American stuntman and horse-wrangler working on a Hollywood western being filmed in a small village in Peru. Lines are blurred by the casting of filmmaker Samuel Fuller as the director, and Peter Fonda and Kris Kristofferson in minor parts. The production dominates the town but one day the filming finishes, and the cast and crew leave. Left behind are the sets (a cheap facsimiles of a cowboy town), and Kansas, who decides to stay on with his Peruvian girlfriend, Maria (Stella Garcia.) Before long, the locals take to imitating the Americans, faking cameras out of wood and beating each other up for phantom lenses. Kansas is called in to explain the art of stage fighting; “We fake everything. It’s all phoney,” he tells them.

While village life slowly disintegrates, Kansas sinks into madness and the bottle. Hopper fragments his story, inserting “Scene Missing” cards and hallucinatory elements. There’s an uncomfortable, boozy sequence in which Kansas and some traveling Americans visit a local brothel, whilst a absurd sojourn to the site of a prospective goldmine turns up nothing. The chaos on screen was matched off it, as filming overran, and the splintered, subjective edit took an age. The fact that the set was reportedly overrun with cocaine and questionable behaviour further blurs the lines between realities, on screen and off.

The re-release of The Last Movie should go some way to release it from its reputation. As with Michael Cimono’s Heaven’s Gate, Hopper’s film is revealed today as more than an indulgent New Hollywood curio. It is a disturbing portrait of self-obliteration and a personal odyssey into ‘70s movie-making, deepened by the way its narrative mirrors the chaos of its production. Despite veering close to cultural condescension (it is almost 50 years old), The Last Movie is a canny commentary on the unsettling tentacles of capitalist America’s soft power. It might leave you dazed and confused, but from today’s vantage point, Hopper’s claim that is his magnum opus doesn’t look too far off.

The Last Movie at HOME Manchester, Manchester 14 — 20 December 2018 Tickets from £5.5 Book now

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Horizons Festival 2024 at HOME
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Where to go near The Last Movie at HOME

Indian Tiffin Room, Manchester

Indian Tiffin Room is a restaurant specialising in Indian street food, with branches in Cheadle and Manchester. This is the information for the Manchester venue.

The Ritz Manchester live music venue
Music venue
The Ritz

The Ritz was originally a dance hall, built in 1928, has hosted The Beatles, Frank Sinatra and The Smiths and is still going strong as a gig venue now.

Event venue

Homeground is HOME’s brand new outdoor venue, providing an open-air space for theatre, food, film, music, comedy and more.

Café or Coffee Shop
Burgess Cafe Bar

Small but perfectly-formed café – which also serves as the in-house bookstore, stocking all manner of Burgess-related works, along with recordings of his music. It’s a welcoming space, with huge glass windows making for a bright, welcoming atmosphere.

Rain Bar pub in Manchester
City Centre
Bar or Pub
Rain Bar

This huge three-floor pub, formerly a Victorian warehouse, then an umbrella factory (hence the name), has one of the city centre’s largest beer gardens. The two-tier terrace overlooks the Rochdale canal and what used to be the back of the Hacienda, providing an unusual, historic view of the city.

Bar or Pub
The Briton’s Protection

Standing on the corner of a junction opposite The Bridgewater Hall, The Briton’s Protection is Manchester’s oldest pub. It has occupied the same spot since 1795, going under the equally patriotic name The Ancient Britain.

What's on: Cinema

CinemaCheetham Hill
Jewish Culture Club

Meet new people, explore contemporary cultural works and learn about Jewish culture with Jewish Culture Club at Manchester Jewish Museum.

free entry
A still from Now, Voyager featuring Charlotte Vale played by Bette Davis.
Now, Voyager at Cottage Road Cinema

Bette Davis stars as a wealthy young woman who escapes her domineering mother in this classic melodrama selected to show as part of Classics at the Cottage this June.

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