LAST CHANTS FOR A SLOW DANCE

LAST CHANTS FOR A SLOW DANCE

(director/writer: Jon Jost; screenwriter: Peter Trias; cinematographers: Wayne Crous/Mary Vollmer/Steve Vooheis/John Jackson/Jon Jost; editors: Wayne Crous/Mary Vollmer/Steve Vooheis/John Jackson/Jon Jost; music: Jon Jost; cast: Tom Blair (Tom Bates), Jessica St. John (Darlene Bates), Steve Vooheis (Hitch-Hiker), John Jackson (Fred), Wayne Crouse (student in diner), Mary Vollmer (Mary); Runtime: 88; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Jon Jost; Jon Jost Productions/TCM; 1977)
“Has a gut-pinching rawness to its modern-day portrait of a wannabe cowboy drifter, turned killer, who is spiritless, opinionated, ignorant and dangerously macho.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The first feature film for the legendary experimental indie filmmaker Jon Jost (“Angel City”/”Slow Moves”/”Sure Fire”) has a gut-pinching rawness to its modern-day portrait of a wannabe cowboy drifter, turned killer, who is spiritless, opinionated, ignorant and dangerously macho. Shot as a plot-less tale of a charmer loser young family man Tom (Tom Blair) returning home to his embittered attractive wife Darlene (Jessica St. John) after splitting and selfishly leaving her alone to take care of his two boys. Tom’s visit is brief, as his nagging wife informs him she’s embarrassed to be on welfare and is pregnant, and if he splits again she’ll divorce him and sue for child support.

Filmed with numerous long shots and featuring the gritty appropriate dark country music written by Jost. The pic takes on being a road film, as for the most part it shows Tom riding in his truck in rural Montana, supposedly looking for work, stopping off in a diner to get into a casual conversation with a cynical war vet college student, picking up an inattentive woman in a bar for a one-night stand and when spotting a man (John Jackson) in a broken-down Volvo on the road offering assistance but then robbing and killing him and coldly justifying his action by telling himself he needed the money more than the gas station owner vic.

It’s a remarkable film for capturing the psychological make-up of a ruthless killer, who blends in with all the other wannabe cowboys out West. The difference being most of them never cross the criminal line of no return like he does.

The pic might have been inspired by the life story of notorious serial-killer Gary Gilmore. It features a different method of filming, somewhat like Godard. This obscure and unique flick is well-worth a look, especially for the brilliantly chilling performance by Blair.

Last Chants for a Slow Dance (1977)

REVIEWED ON 4/12/2013 GRADE: A-