...engaging and discerning culture, as a way of life...

June 22, 2006

Five Easy Pieces - 6

This is a film about running away (Bobby: "I move around a lot, not because I'm looking for anything really, but 'cause I'm getting away from things that get bad if I stay."). In some senses this film would fit well with the work of Terrence Malick, especially Badlands and Days of Heaven (Paul?). The main character, Bobby (played by Jack Nicholson), is working on an oil field in California. Spending most of his time gambling and womanizing. Only later do we find that he is a classically trained pianist who has conflicting thoughts and feelings about his past and his present. He returns home to an ailing father and broken siblings, still trying to understand himself and assessing his life. The film ends with him continuing to run away from his past, as if moving spatially is the equivalent as moving temporally -it seems you can't escape who you are. He finds there is nowhere he belongs. I think most people will identify with the unspoken emotion of the film. A reflective film. It is also famous for Nicholson's "chicken salad" speech:

[Bobby wants plain toast, which isn't on the menu]
Bobby: I'd like an omelet, plain, and a chicken salad sandwich on wheat toast, no mayonnaise, no butter, no lettuce. And a cup of coffee.
Waitress: A #2, chicken salad sand. Hold the butter, the lettuce, the mayonnaise, and a cup of coffee. Anything else?
Bobby: Yeah, now all you have to do is hold the chicken, bring me the toast, give me a check for the chicken salad sandwich, and you haven't broken any rules.
Waitress: You want me to hold the chicken, huh?
Bobby: I want you to hold it between your knees.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I need to finally watch Tokyo Story next week sometime, but I'll bump this film up in the queue. I've been considering doing that for some time now, since I've heard that it's one of Nicholson's best performances. The Malick comparison probably cements the bump.:)

And I've heard many a story about the chicken speech, but it doesn't ring a bell in the quotes, so maybe context will help.