Thursday, August 23, 2012

Zabriskie Pointless: Artful Nothingness from the Great Antonioni

At the Movies with Showbiz David: Zabriskie Point

A major disappointment, and from one of my favorite directors, I have so much respect for other of his films, like The Passenger. He starts out promisingly, his cameras scanning with cunning clarity the superficial landscape of American consumer culture.

So why not juxtapose those gleaming pictures of ad art and real estate pitches with gritty scenes of ghetto life, and also of the great parks that protect nature in all its exalted glory? They, too, are a part of the American experience. Michelangelo Antonioni's promising grasp too soon turns simplistic and down right stupid. Now, if you like frilly silly psychedelic images, do sit through to the end.

When the young couple, innocuously hot for each other, reach Zabriskie Point and end up making out in a series of passionless rollovers through the sandy mountains that seem to go on and on forever (Viagra might have helped), you might have a feeling that nothing at all is happening. Perhaps that is what the director wishes us to feel. But he has failed to earn our attention or respect for a premise that is amazingly under-developed.

I remember the listless reviews when it came out in 1970, so I avoided. Maybe they were wrong; finally, I took a look, only to be sorely reminded that the greatest of directors can make great mistakes, too.

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