Tuesday, April 3, 2012

What I Learned

Film: Zabriskie Point
Format: DVD from NetFlix on big ol’ television.

Zabriskie Point marks the third of four times The List crosses paths with “The Fifty Worst Films of All Time,” leaving only one film left for me on both lists. I hated the first (L’Annee Derniere a Marienbad) and didn’t love the second (Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia). I’d like to state that my luck changed with the third, but that would be lying.

I could complain about the aimlessness of this film. I could also get angry about the wooden acting of almost everyone involved, particularly our two leads, Mark Frechette and Daria Halprin. I could talk about the fact that Antonioni evidently knew nothing about the counter-culture movement in the United States but made a film about it anyway. All of this I could do, but I will not. Instead, I’d like to talk about the things that I learned while watching this film.

• You can shut down the ROTC with a single Molotov cocktail.
• You should be willing to die, but not of boredom.
• Anarchists still have to go to meetings.
• Hippie girls don’t dig secretarial work, but they do it when they need the bread.
• Joining isn’t a matter of choice, but a matter of survival.
• “Associate Professor of History” is too long for a police form, so “clerk” is a good substitute occupation.
• Trying to bail someone out will get you arrested.
• Policemen have never heard of Karl Marx.
• Gun salesmen will break the law and sell you a gun without a waiting period if you need to protect your women.
• The law says you can protect your house, so if you shoot ‘em in the backyard, be sure to drag them inside.
• Mannequins are better spokes models than people, and an address is a suitable replacement for repeating a phone number in an advertisement.
• No one will trust you for the price of a sandwich.
• You should get a pilot’s license just in case you ever need to get off the ground.
• To get a hippie chick attracted to you, buzz her with your stolen airplane, and then drop her a giant shirt.
• If you go to a named spot out in the desert (like, say, Zabriskie Point) you should still feel free to have sex in the open in daylight. Don’t worry—no one will see you. Try this at the Grand Canyon or Mount Rushmore.
• If you do have sex in the desert, a group of hippies will appear around you and have sex, too.
• If you roll around in the desert naked and then proceed to sex, oral sex is not specifically off the table, regardless of the inevitable mouthful of dust.
• It’s better to go to prison than to get a haircut.
• Old creepy guys who live alone in the desert have tons of paint around, and will help you decorate your stolen airplane with drawings of giant boobs.
• If you’re going to return your stolen airplane with the hope of getting away, you probably shouldn’t radio ahead and tell them you’re coming.
• If you do return your stolen airplane, don’t try to land, because the police will shoot you when you are trying to stop.
• When you get to your final destination after dirty desert sex, don’t change your clothes.
• If you can find water, you can find gold.
• Never show an explosion once when you can show it a dozen times.

• Nothing says “anti-consumerism” like an exploding loaf of Wonder Bread.
Zabriskie Point has more Zabriskie than point.

Why to watch Zabriskie Point: Because you have nothing better to do.
Why not to watch: Because it’s pretentious, and not in any good way.


  1. HA! I see someone liked this just as much as me.

  2. I'm sure there exists people who like this movie, but I haven't met one yet. What a pointless excursion in...I'm not really sure.

  3. Hah. Antonioni sure is an acquired taste. Though ZABRISKIE POINT was a notch above his usual unbearably contemplative self. He's a part of this school of "auteur" or whatever they call themselves, who treat cinema not necessarily as a narrative art, but as a medium equivalent to painting and such. Thought ZABRISKIE was rather playful compared to let's say L'AVVENTURA. But yeah, if you want to watch a decent Antonioni, watch BLOW UP. It's rather quiet, but it's smart.

    I gotta say I loved MARIENBAD though. This film messed with my mind in all the right ways.

  4. I loved Blow Up. There wasn't much plot to it, but I found a lot there that I loved. Marienbad, though, was the film that turned this blog from PG-13 into R-rated.

  5. Agreed! I remember cursing the fact that I spent my time watching this!

  6. I like pointless as well as the next guy, but if a movie is going to be stupid and pointless, it should at least be entertaining.

  7. I haven't had a chance to watch any of the documentaries I DVRed off TCM this week and now Zabriskie Point shows up on the TCM schedule. It may be a week or two before I get to it. Scanning the review and reading the comments makes me a bit apprehensive. I'm not such a big Antonioni fan but I really liked the last one I saw - L'eclisse - so maybe I'm getting a handle on what he's about.

    1. While I certainly understand the desire/compulsive need to watch everything, this isn't one I'd rush to watch, except to get rid of it on the list. Your mileage may vary, of course. A lot of people love it.

  8. I guess I'm learning to appreciate Antonioni because Zabriskie Point goes into the "pretty great" bin with L'eclisse, The Passenger and Blow-Up.

    That's not to say I'm pretending I understand it. I was just very entertained despite my ignorance and confusion.

    And the list of things you learned is hilarious.

    I suspect Rod Taylor may be unaware that he is even in this movie because he sure acted like he thought he was making something else.

    1. Yeah, this isn't one I want to see again pretty much ever. I can't think of anything I liked about this other than the fact that it resulted in an entertaining review.