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The Bottom Line
Try to track down a rare copy of Hopper's film before seeing this, or you won't get half the references
Jan. 9 (M'Aidez Films)
Alex Ross Perry, Gabino Rodriguez, Iatzua Larios
Raya Martin, Mark Peranson
Apparently geared to those few people with very long memories who saw Dennis Hopper‘s notorious 1971 artsy head-scratcher flop The Last Movie—his follow-up to the hugely successful Easy Rider, and now unavailable in any home video format—Raya Martin and Mark Peranson‘s all too obviously titled, insular cinematic riff will leave anyone unfamiliar with Hopper's would-be magnum opus mostly bewildered. Being given a theatrical showcase by the Film Society of Lincoln Center in conjunction with the equally little-seen 1971 documentary The American Dreamer chronicling the making of Hopper's film, La Ultima Pelicula is strictly for the sort of ardent cinephiles with a lifetime subscription to Film Comment.
Furthering the film's in-joke nature, successful indie director Alex Ross Perry (Listen Up Philip) plays the central role of Alex, a pretentious filmmaker who with his aviator sunglasses and cowboy hat is more than a little reminiscent of Hopper's character in the previous film. The dubious set-up has him scouting Mexican locations for his new movie that will involve the use of the apparently last extant celluloid film stock. Accompanying him in his travels are his sarcastic guide Gabino (Gabino Rodriguez) and a female journalist (Iatzua Larios).
Set in late 2012 when the supposed apocalypse was predicted to take place by the Mayans, the film links the end of the world with “the death of cinema,” which Alex intends to exploit for his own glory with a cinematic masterpiece “more mystical and spiritual than anything the medium has ever produced.” Meanwhile, when he' not pontificating in endless pretentious monologues he spends his time making fun of the ugly Americans he encounters—oblivious to the fact that he's one of them—and engaging in such activities as visiting a seedy strip club and landing himself in jail.
Directly nodding to its inspiration via such devices as title cards announcing “Scene Missing” and the use of the song “Me and Bobby McGee,” the film displays a formal inventiveness by using various formats, including 16mm, Super 8 and digital, in often clever ways including the deliberate signs of deterioration that were used to similar effect in Tarantino and Rodriguez's Grindhouse. But the longer the proceedings go on the more wearisome they get, with Perry's character quickly wearing out his satirical welcome. By the time it's over, you'll almost wish that La Ultima Pelicula would live up to its title.
Production: Cinema Scope
Cast: Alex Ross Perry, Gabino Rodriguez, Iatzua Larios, Rene Redzepi
Directors/screenwriters: Raya Martin, Mark Peranson
Producer: Mark Peranson
Executive producer: Christos Konstantakopoulos
Director of photography: Gym Lumbera
Production designer: Paloma Camarena
Editors: Mark Peranson, Lawrence S. Ang
No rating, 88 min.