This time of year….

….I’m feeling stretched like Jennifer Jason Leigh in The Hitcher (1986).

I watched The Hitcher for the first time in over 20 years the other night, a film which I loved back in the day. I was a bit scared to return to it, fearing it wouldn’t hold up all that well and I would have to cross yet another film off my list of 80s classics. Yet, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Rutger Hauer’s menacing, demon-like character was just as powerful as it once was, even if C. Thomas Howell was a bit lamer than I remember. Plus, this remains one of those great situation horrors that does an amazing job of using the barren landscape and isolated atmosphere to great advantage. Moreover, it’s wild to watch how so much of the suspense and horror has to do with Howell’s character being cut off from the world. I found myself thinking how much this film is as much a mediation on communication and identity (aren’t all horrors?), as it is an over-the-top exploitation film that forever scared me away from picking up strangers. Also, It’s kind of like No Country for Old Men without the hang over, for it doesn’t take itself half as seriously nor resort to glib nihilism.

One of the things I had forgotten entirely was that Jennifer Jason Leigh was in this one—she remains for me one of the icons of 80s film, and a truly great character actor in every sense of that word. So, seeing her made me feel all the more sure this film deserved the place I had reserved for it in my memory, too bad she had to pay for Howell’s sins.

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2 Responses to This time of year….

  1. Alan Levine says:

    C’mon, we need more glib nihilism, eh?

    BTW, I always love your obvious deep passion for film and in depth / severely hyperlinked reviews – a great example of people flouting their passions (well the ones safe to flout).

    I re-watched No Country a few weeks ago and see it now more as a dark black comedy 😉 I was most disappointed to find it had no directors commentary track. I can see some future web resource (or likely it is out there) of tracking not only good films, but ones with quality extras on the disc. If you look at the discs in the light, you can see how much unused space for content they gyp you out of.

  2. Reverend says:

    Alan,

    What passions do you have that are unsafe to flout? Now there is a list I would die to read 🙂 Movies are good because most everybody has something to say about them, so it feels comfortable to sit back and rant amongst millions of others, it’s somehow comforting to write about movies here, because it was what I intended for this blog for the very beginning. So when I repeat myself ad nauseum about edtech, which is always the case, I can pull out an 80s film to make me feel better. The blogging space is a nostalgia pen for me, I just love to write about the first thought I get in my head about the good old days–and movies mark my idea of time and the past like no other form, and the internet brings it all back in a second. It’s kinda why I like your post about TV so much, it was a search for what was, and what now is–acknowledging the undeniable tension that will always exist, and we can never really reconcile. I think that is the discomfort I so often feel.

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