RIP Monte Hellman

It’s rare that I get the chance to write about movies, but I somehow wrote about the great, recently passed Monte Hellman twice over the years. Two Lane Blacktop I’ve seen close to a dozen times and it’s the only film that somehow makes less sense with every viewing.

First time was through the lens of the enigmatic Dennis Wilson, whom Hellman had this observation: “I don’t think I’ve ever worked with an actor who was so unself-conscious. He had no awareness of the fact that there was a camera. Or even that he was acting in a movie. He got so involved in what was going on, not as a character but just as an observer with these other people. He really related to everybody in a completely realistic way. It was the perfect definition of what acting should be. He believed everything that was happening.”

HOLY MAN: DENNIS WILSON REVIVED

Second was through the lens of his other leading man, Jack Nicholson, and his turn in two very strange westerns Hellman directed: “They were too quiet for westerns. There was not enough action in the scripts.”

JACK NICHOLSON, EXISTENTIALIST COWBOY

My Deadspin Non-Sports Writing

Air Supply

I only got to write a handful of times for Deadspin (h/t to Down in Front), but I greatly enjoyed what I submitted over there. At one point in time, I wrote often about cinema (even having a column about soundtracks at Idolator called VHS or Beta) but those outlets slowly evaporated, or rather, stopped paying money. So it was fun to get to write about shitty directors who kept name-dropping John Cassavetes while not taking one aspect of his work to heart and the brain-frying brilliance of Jack Nicholson’s early westerns. Back when Guardians of the Galaxy was a box office smash, I got to wax about the mighty 10cc in all their permutations, from the woolly Consequences box set to Godley and Creme’s godlike “Cry” being used on an episode of Miami Vice, making it “ideal music for a sockless-yet-shoed Don Johnson to shoot a shirtless-yet-sports-coated Ted Nugent to.” And when Roberta Flack was used on the final season of Mad Men, I got to tell the little-known story about how Play Misty for Me actually put Flack in the public consciousness.

My favorite Deadspin piece was no doubt “Big In Jamaica: Why Reggae Fans Mysteriously Love Air Supply,” which explored why the pillow-soft Aussies were revered throughout the Caribbean and plastered on reggae festival posters in my old neighborhood of Crown Heights. The piece touched on the likes of FKA twigs, the Clash, Bread, and Marty Robbins, none of the above sports figures per se, but it was fun and enlightening to cover non-sports for a site that’s getting shittier by the day.