Tuesday, February 18, 2014 at 7:30pm
Jon Jost's Last Chants for a Slow Dance (Dead End)
155 Freeman Street, Brooklyn
Last Chants for a Slow Dance (Dead End), Jon Jost, digital projection, 1977, 90 mins
"Unlike almost all American directors, Jon Jost is not a traitor to the movies. He makes them move." - Jean-Luc Godard
A rarely-seen masterpiece of independent cinema, Jon Jost’s Last Chants for a Slow Dance is a bleak and nuanced road movie, at once elegant in its experimental form, riveting in its narrative maneuvers, and disarming in its emotional intelligence. Shot in dusty Montana, the film doggedly follows Tom Bates—whom Jost calls “a debased modern cowboy”—through a series of everyday occurrences over an unknowable zone of time, employing sinuous long takes that continuously reveal new details. Bates journeys with a young hitchhiker, then tosses him out of his pickup, argues with his wife, visits a local diner, hits a bar, has a one-night stand, and then finally encounters a roadside stranger, leading the film toward an explosive end. Inspired by the Gary Gilmore murder case, Last Chants was written, directed, shot, and edited by Jost for a mere $3,000—he even sings the original, melancholy country-western ballads that serve as the film’s musical soundtrack—yet it evinces a mastery of the medium seldom seen in productions of any budget. Reviewing Last Chants not long after its initial release, the journal Movie observed that it “does what virtually no other film made in the USA in the 70’s does—it exemplifies the possibility of a radical alternative cinema, radical and alternative in economic, aesthetic, and political terms”
“I had lived in Oregon and Montana for five years, and the rural West was very real and familiar terrain to me, a place in which I felt at home and comfortable, nevermind its many rough manners. Despite the gun racks, the macho sexism, and the overall conservatism of the West, it is generally a place where people are genuinely friendly and helpful. For shooting a no-budget film like Last Chants it was ideal: ask for a bar, you got it, no questions asked, no money exchanged. Aside from Tom Blair, whom I’d met when living near Kalispell when he was the theater department of the local community college, and Jessica St. John, a type-cast hooker sort in Hollywood TV productions who I’d met in LA, the rest of the cast were locals who I gathered in the space of a week. Places, trucks, people—what little I needed fell easily in my hands for the asking. True West.” - JJ
Followed by a conversation with Jost.
Tickets - $7, available at door.
Please note: seating is limited. First-come, first-served. Box office opens at 7pm.