****/**** Image A Sound A Extras A
starring Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, Jack Nicholson, Luke Askew
screenplay by Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, Terry Southern
directed by Dennis Hopper
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by Walter Chaw SPOILER WARNING IN EFFECT. It's not easy to mark the beginning of the Sixties as an idea. Me, personally, as it's the way I'm wired, I like to use as the starting gun the trilogy of dysfunctional pictures--Psycho, Eyes Without a Face, Peeping Tom--that literally inaugurate the decade, but I'd also accept that 1962's Cuban Missile Crisis was enough for many of the nearly-disaffected to become completely what-the-fuck disaffected. And if you go with that, then what happens at the end of 1963 with the assassination of JFK is that Zapruder places film as the end-all of Truth. A lot changed with those 26.6 seconds of film--or, should we say, a lot changed back, to a period where the newsreel, no matter how doctored or fabricated, was the primary mass means of information-gathering before television began to encroach on it. A lot of ink's been spilled about the extent to which movies in the mid-to-late-Fifties tried to outdo the boob-tube with grand Technicolor visions; comparatively little has been written about Zapruder's 486 colour frames, which stole the thunder of television's hold on vérité--remember, in 1960, Hitch wanted to shoot Psycho in a televisual style for its implicit realism--as elegantly as a shell fired from a mail-order Carcano. TV achieves a stalemate by broadcasting Vietnam during the dinner hour, yet it doesn't win outright until the '90s when it embraces shakycam and film unveils itself once and for all as a magician's medium: smoke, mirrors, Forrest telling LBJ he needs to piss, and the Titanic going down again to the tune of a tween tearjerker.