is the end of the world, but everyone feels fine. Linear Valley is pretty much
devastated from the radiation spewing from the nearby nuclear power plant and
outright nuclear war is imminent. However, burning down the local diner for the
insurance money is still a viable scheme for the new owner. Too stoned-out to
even be considered satire, Neil Young’s pseudonymously directed apocalyptic
musical Human Highway (trailer here) finally gets a
proper New York release, starting today, as part of the IFC Center’s new film series,
Bernard Shakey Retrospective: Neil Young on Screen.
under Young’s Shakey alter-ego with co-star Dean Stockwell, Highway also features Dennis Hopper (in
dual roles), Russ Tamblyn, and Mark Mothersbaugh with Devo, so that should give
you a general idea what’s on-tap. Young plays earnest loser mechanic Lionel
Switch, who harbors dreams of rock & roll stardom, but every year the
nuclear power plant’s garbage men win the radio station’s talent show. This
morning he has brought along his pal Fred Kelly, whom his boss, Old Otto has
promised a job.
he wasn’t known as “Old Otto” for nothing. Sadly, the town benefactor has
passed away and his money grubbing son, Otto Quartz has inherited the diner and
garage. He has some new policies that will not go over well with the staff.
Yet, it may not matter very much, judging from the ominous radio reports.
is hard to apply any rational critical standard to such a manic exercise in DIY
spit-ball shooting and general tom-foolery. Frankly, the reason most people
will want to see it would be Young’s hard-edged rendition of “Hey Hey, My My
(Into the Black)” with Devo. Arguably, Highway
is even more a curio for Devo fans than admirers of Young (who has been
quite well documented on film, by Jonathan Demme).
Switch, Young is pretty shameless mugging for the camera. Likewise, Stockwell
is not exactly shy about chewing the scenery while playing the villainous
Quartz. What would you expect from a film conceived as a lark and fueled by
peyote and transcendental meditation, or who knows what?
This is the sort of film you watch just to
confirm it exists. Some see seeds of The
Simpsons in its wacky nuclear waste handlers, but you could probably find
crude analogs for just about every subsequent surreal vision quest within
Linear Valley. For fans of Young, Devo, and anarchic micro-budget slapstick allegories,
the director’s cut of Human Highway opens
today (4/17) at the IFC Center.
Labels: Apocalyptic cinema, Canadian Cinema, Dean Stockwell, Devo, Neil Young