Film Club: The Straight Story

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The Modernist

Film Club: The Straight Story

Postby The Modernist » 31 May 2007, 09:10

Been quite busy so forgot really to remind people about this. But we said we'd discuss this at the end of the month. I'm going to watch it again tonight. In the meantime if you want to talk about the film well here's the thread...

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Postby James R » 31 May 2007, 12:14

Still my favourite Lynch film. There are shots in that film that should be hung in art galleries.
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Postby Velvis » 31 May 2007, 12:27

My favorite part was when Straight was lecturing the arguing brother mechanics on the importance of getting along. That to become estranged for the rest of their lives would be a terrible loss. At that point you realize the whole point of Straight's quest. Very moving.

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Postby the masked man » 31 May 2007, 12:38

I've never seen this, and it doesn't seem to be available on DVD in the UK anymore. That doesn't seem right, given David Lynch's status. Grrr.

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Postby Maxwell's Golden Pickaxe » 31 May 2007, 12:47

the masked man wrote:I've never seen this, and it doesn't seem to be available on DVD in the UK anymore. That doesn't seem right, given David Lynch's status. Grrr.


That's quite odd. I've seen it on DVD here lots of times and Ireland and the UK would be the same area for distribution.

One of my favourite films. I particularly love the scene when he's talking to a fellow WWII vet in a bar. Extremely moving.
And the ending is just perfect.
Great Badalamenti score too.

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Postby Nervous Ned » 31 May 2007, 12:51

I love the bit with the distraught woman who runs over the Deer ... and then reveals that this happens to her everyday (week?) '... and I love Deer! she proclaims

Cue next scene of Alvin tucking into aforementioned roadkill :D

(I wont mention the fact that the field Alvin is in is populated by stuffed Deer :shock: )

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Postby the masked man » 31 May 2007, 12:53

Maxwell's Golden Pickaxe wrote:
the masked man wrote:I've never seen this, and it doesn't seem to be available on DVD in the UK anymore. That doesn't seem right, given David Lynch's status. Grrr.


That's quite odd. I've seen it on DVD here lots of times and Ireland and the UK would be the same area for distribution.

One of my favourite films. I particularly love the scene when he's talking to a fellow WWII vet in a bar. Extremely moving.
And the ending is just perfect.
Great Badalamenti score too.


There was a DVD released in the UK - I think Channel 4 released it - but it must have been deleted.

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Postby Tapiocahead » 31 May 2007, 12:55

Makes you wonder why Lynch fucks about with the obtuse stuff when he's obviously so good as at this.
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Postby Giselle » 31 May 2007, 14:32

I just saw this again, recently. The scenes you've all already mentioned are very moving--and the scene when the runaway girl leaves the bundle of sticks is a good one, too. the scenes are so simple--they pierce straight to the heart--has anyone seen "Spring, Summer Fall Winter and Spring Again"

it tells little stories scene by scene beautifully, straightforwardly like "The Straight Story"
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Postby Maxwell's Golden Pickaxe » 31 May 2007, 16:51

Mr Tapioca wrote:Makes you wonder why Lynch fucks about with the obtuse stuff when he's obviously so good as at this.


Yeah, maybe it's time he went back and did something like this again. After all, how much more Lynchian and out-there can he go after Inland Empire?

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Postby Bungo the Mungo » 31 May 2007, 16:55

What's the idea of this Film Club, then? With all respect to the esteemed G, anyone could start a thread about a given film!

I realise it would impossible to start dictating dates when people should watch the film, and so on, but maybe someone could post a short critical essay on the film, with some questions to follow. Something to work with, perhaps. Otherwise it'll just be a list of 'yeah, great film!'-type responses.

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Postby kath » 31 May 2007, 17:00

Sir John Coan wrote:What's the idea of this Film Club, then? With all respect to the esteemed G, anyone could start a thread about a given film!

I realise it would impossible to start dictating dates when people should watch the film, and so on, but maybe someone could post a short critical essay on the film, with some questions to follow. Something to work with, perhaps. Otherwise it'll just be a list of 'yeah, great film!'-type responses.


did you miss the earlier film club thread, then? we all submitted three movies, with the highest voted list getting discussed first, etc.

(i still need to rent this particular movie AND the cary grant flick marios told me to watch... i smell blockbuster this weekend.)

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Postby The Modernist » 31 May 2007, 18:25

Sir John Coan wrote:What's the idea of this Film Club, then? With all respect to the esteemed G, anyone could start a thread about a given film!

I realise it would impossible to start dictating dates when people should watch the film, and so on, but maybe someone could post a short critical essay on the film, with some questions to follow. Something to work with, perhaps. Otherwise it'll just be a list of 'yeah, great film!'-type responses.


Fair points John, whilst there have been responses it hasn't as yet engendered the more in depth discussion which was one of the ideas behind it.
First of all a date was set. This is important as it gives everyone a chance to watch the film to debate at a certain time. This is what makes it different, in theory, to an ad- hoc thread about a particular film.
I think really that I needed to have reminded people so that they were prepared, I'm sure everyone forgot about it. I had kind of intended to do this, but work and other things got in the way.
Perhaps we need to make the film club one a sticky so there is this permanent reminder.
I'm not sure about an essay, sometimes posts can go into so much depth it doesn't leave much for others to say. However a short introductory paragraph may help to gives things more structure. I'll try and do that for the next ones.

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Postby brotherlouie » 03 Jun 2007, 16:09

Giselle wrote:...the scene when the runaway girl leaves the bundle of sticks is a good one, too.


I loved the film and saw it again recently, but this is a strange bit for me. To use the fasces symbol (co-opted by Mussolini from the Romans and the root of the words fascist), seems incongruous. It's trivial and I realise that most people wouldn't know this and the metaphor does work, but it grates with me.

The scene in the bar is marvellous.

On a sad note I think the lead actor guy died recently.

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Postby lemon » 03 Jun 2007, 17:55

Just to offer a contrary view to the rest, I didn't really like it. Well not entirely true, but it didn't really sit right with me.

I think I was hoping for a lot more with the premise, the idea of a guy driving a tractor across America sounded like a really fun quirky idea, but all I got was the guy telling a bunch of stories. I actually liked the stories though, I thought the character was quite touching and the way he imparted his wisdom on the other characters in the story was nice to watch, but I just don't see the needed to use this story to do it.

Also, while I can see that Lynch probably did do a good job with it, I think I'd prefer him to stick to his crazy mind fucking films like Mulholland Dr.

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Postby Maxwell's Golden Pickaxe » 03 Jun 2007, 18:29

brotherlouie wrote:On a sad note I think the lead actor guy died recently.


Yes. Richard Farnsworth committed suicide in October 2000, in the throws of a very painful terminal cancer.

How sad.

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Postby mentalist (slight return) » 04 Jun 2007, 02:40

I liked it. My dad's that age and a few of his friends are going through serious illnesses. I expect a lot of people can empathise with Straight and the various encounters he has in this road movie.

The pun on the title was interesting. Lynch rarely does movies with very straight stories. Yet this narrative is as straight and linear and un-surreal as they come. It was even done with Disney.
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Postby Sneelock » 04 Jun 2007, 19:30

It's interesting that having a David Lynch film that he didn't write gives you such a spotlight on his skill as a director. the film is as determined as Alvin Straight, as strong in it's resolve as he. the film takes it's namesakes pace and I think it's one of my favorite movies of the nineties.

a man decides what he needs to do and how he's going to do it and then he does it. I can see why others fall asleep on the couch but I'll bet they had a nice rest. we hear a lot about the need for conflict in the art of drama. I think it's a rare and wonderful thing to see a film where almost none of that conflict comes from other people. Alvin is a splendid fellow and he really has no cross to bear with others. he's going to make things right.

people aren't perfect or they wouldn't be people. the campfire scene nails the movie for me. when Alvin reaches the end of his road, I feel like I've watched somebody accomplish something and that it was something worth accomplishing. Farnsworth was a wonderful actor and I think it's great that somebody allowed him to put so much of himself onscreen. He may be acting but he is bringing his knowledge of life and his own mortality to the role. I think it's a gentle masterpiece.

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Postby Davey the Fat Boy » 12 Jun 2007, 16:09

The Moddie Experience! wrote:whilst there have been responses it hasn't as yet engendered the more in depth discussion which was one of the ideas behind it.


For what it is worth, I finally got around to watching it again last night (I'd had it on order for weeks, but it arrived late). Going in I have to admit the minor conceit that I thought perhaps I'd watch it and come out with a series of observations that would set off the kind of discussion you were hoping for.

Of course now that I've seen the film again (I saw it last when it was new), I realize what an ironic choice this film is as discussion fodder. I think back to the last scene of the film with ol' Alvin and Lyle on the porch. Some things transcend words. This film is one of them.

Ambiguity gets an awful lot of play these days as an artistic merit. But here is a film almost devoid of ambiguity. It is shocking that it came from an artist as prone to archness as David Lynch. Not that he hasn't infused it with plenty of absurdity, but in this case every absurd moment or image is completely grounded in the emotional and physical truth of the story. Alvin may look ridiculous on his mower, but he has his reasons for being there. The 'deer lady' may seem reminiscent of some of the roadside hysterics we've seen in other Lynch films, but she really has to get to work and is now carrying the weight of what that daily journey is doing to her. It is this sense of history, recent or ancient, that dignifies every single character and every action in the film.

Of course there are artistic choices we could talk about in that detached way that film enthusiasts do if we really want to have that discussion. We could speculate on why Alvin encounters a graveyard immediately after crossing the Mississippi, and muse on the brilliance of having a priest appear at just that moment to take his confession. We could speculate on the symbolism of a small riding mower pulling around a much larger trailer and how it mirrors the kind of experience and guilt we pull around with us as we age. We could talk about all of the ways this film grapples with the subject of mortality.

Like Alvin and Lyle, it isn't really that we have a shortage of things to talk about. But there really isn't anything that needs to be said, is there?
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Postby Davey the Fat Boy » 12 Jun 2007, 16:11

mentalist (slight return) wrote: Lynch rarely does movies with very straight stories. Yet this narrative is as straight and linear and un-surreal as they come. It was even done with Disney.


I thnk the film's most absurd moment was the very beginning when the credits flashed, "Walt Disney pictures presents"......"A Film by David Lynch".

I couldn't help but smile.
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