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The Straight Story (1999), David Lynch, A

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Monday, March 28th, 2005

It’s funny — this loving ode to Middle America was financed by the French, photographed by an Englishman and scored by an Italian. The title isn’t just a pun (Alvin Straight’s story goes “straight” down the road . . .or “straight” to your heart. . .or whatever) but also serves as a reminder that great directors, yes, know what they are doing. Whenever you watch something like “Mullholland Drive” and wonder, “wait a sec, is David Lynch really full of shit?” the answer is “no.” Much like Jackson Pollack could paint bowls of fruit if he wanted to (answering the annoying remark of “my grandson could do this”), Lynch can tell a (ahem) straight story if he wants to. Try not to tear up at the end. I dare ya.


  1. A note on “loving ode to Middle America.” I thought the same thing when I first saw the movie, so the next time I went home to Pennsylvania for a visit, I made sure to get a copy at the video store for my parents to watch, figuring they’d love this movie. (Dad’s taste rans towards westerns and WW II flicks — you could have a gay love story, but so long as it was set in WW II, he’d watch it. Mom has trouble with “F Word movies” … or anything indie.)

    We sat and watched the movie — a great movie, by the way. At the end, dad’s response: “That’s the worst piece of shit I’ve ever seen.” Mom’s: “It was so boring. Couldn’t someone just give him a ride?”

    And I learned one of life’s great lessons: people who live working-class lives don’t necessarily want their lives fed back to them artistically. Some might, but most would rather be entertained — maybe to help them temporarily forget about their working-class lives? Had similar experiences in factories with guys who would use Springsteen albums for target practice at the rifle range, but worshipped Jimmy Page.

    Comment by Bill R. — March 28, 2005 @ 9:59 am

  2. “One of life’s great lessons,” as taught by Preston Sturges:

    “There’s a lot to be said for making people laugh! Did you know that’s all some people have? It isn’t much, but it’s better than nothing in this cockeyed caravan!”

    Comment by jurgen — March 29, 2005 @ 10:39 am

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