Thursday, October 8, 2015

621. Last Chants for a Slow Dance (1977)

Running Time: 90 minutes
Directed By: Jon Jost
Written By: Jon Jost
Main Cast: Tom Blair, Wayne Crouse, Jessica St. John, Steve Voorheis


I put in "Ugetsu" and seventeen minutes in, my blu-ray player is moaning and I take out the disc to find that Netflix has sent me another cracked one. Therefore, I turned to the computer to take in another rarity in Jon Jost's "Last Chants for a Slow Dance", which I enjoyed...for some, sick reason.

There's not a whole lot in the way of plot going on, but rather the movie is a collection of about seven or eight scenes, all revealing a little piece of the character Tom Bates (Blair). We open on a road, a man jacking his jaw behind the wheel of a pickup truck. The man turns out to be our main character - the man is Tom Bates. He's talking to someone, a male, perhaps a hitchhiker - someone he's spilling his guts to: he has two kids he never really wanted, he has a wife who nags him although he loves her, he's unemployed. The passenger disagrees with him once and it's bye bye hitcher, as Tom kicks the boy out of the truck. In the following scene, Tom and Darlene (his wife) get into an argument - she wants him to be a better husband & father. He sits back and takes it, for the most part. Later, we see him pick up a woman, Mary, in a bar - the following scene has us peeping on them having sex, followed by Tom calling Darlene to continue the apartment, while still naked in the bed of his new found mistress. There's a few other scenes, but why sit here and let me read it to you word for word, when you can probably, easily track it down online and see it for yourself. In fact, I recommend you do.

Went into this one LITERALLY knowing nothing about it, other than the fact that THE BOOK clearly made another blunder and misspelled the word "chance". Well, I was clearly wrong about that assumption - I still don't really get the title though. Like I said in my review for "The Burmese Harp", at this point, I've unfairly given up hope of any of these last thirty or so movies impressing me. When I peruse the list of what's left, almost nothing has me excited, while the majority have me filled with dread. However, for the second time in a row, I've been pleasantly surprised, which is why my skepticism approach may be paying off. If I think the worst, then it can only get better from there, right?

Technically, this is one, big character study. However, I refuse to believe that this is MEANT to be anything deeper than Jon Jost wanting to spend the $2,000 he saved up and make a movie. With a sort of half-assed idea, he got a camera and began to sew together the handful of ideas he had, gluing them at the seams with whole country & western tunes. I can say, the music DID get annoying, at times. There were times when it felt like Jost was simply stretching his time, trying to hide the fact that his movie was without flow, but instead and like I said, a handful of vignettes which together, show the downfall of Tom Bates, as he spirals into lunacy. The film is ugly, don't get me wrong. Audiences will want to put as much distance between themselves and the memory of the Tom Bates character as they can. He's not a character you want to harp on, realizing that there are already too many Tom Bates' running loose in the world.

I will applaud the efforts of these clearly amateur actors. Tom Blair was terrific as the lead and even Jessica St. John delivers her, "am I gonna have to D-I-V-O-R-C-E you" speech like a real pro, delivering it with feeling and emotion. It's rare to find amateurs who aren't trying too hard and these amateurs were probably trying very hard, you just couldn't tell - which is the best type of trying hard. Clearly, as a fan of minimalist filmmaking and the works of Jim Jarmusch and such, I dug this. It was actually, kind of right up my alley - although, I'll admit the address of my alley has changed drastically since undertaking the BOOK project. This is something old Andrew would've adored and something new Andrew thinks is "just very good".

RATING: 7/10  Had there been a bit more meat and less country tunes (although those tunes really were all really good songs, which I can't track down anywhere - were they famous songs or home spun material?) I could've gone a lot higher. As it is, this was a fine way to spend ninety minutes and considering the $2K budget, it was astonishing.


October 8, 2013  10:34pm


  1. Hi Andrew, I've been reading your blog for a while now without commenting, now's as good a time as any! Was wondering what you'd make of this, it was the film I had to spend the most money on, had to import it to the UK from the director himself. Wasn't sure what to make of it myself, parts of it were good, like the Easy Rider-esque road bits and the diner scene. My impression though was that it only really made the book due to it's rarity and budget, so I think 7 was generous, maybe a passable 5 for me.

    I've just finished the book myself (thankfully) and did a lengthy review on my own blog along with lists of my best/worst films, gave your blog a mention at the end seeing as I ended up finding what you had to say about each film more interesting than the book itself :) -

    1. Thank you so much Donald for the kind words. I really appreciate that! I'll definitely give your blog a look and add it to my BlogRoll, if you don't object.

      Yeah, I kind of agree with you. I'd be willing to bet the $2k budget is what got this into THE BOOK and I really don't think it's "must see". However, I enjoyed it enough and like I said, this is something I'd have loved to have stumbled across pre-book. Today, I'm just a lot more picky.

      Thanks again!

  2. No problem, I'm enjoying reading your reviews. Yes feel free to add to your blogroll, appreciate that. My blog doesn't have that feature I don't think but I'll do likewise if I can work it out. Cheers, Donald.

    1. Well I tried adding you to the BlogRoll, but it's stopping me for some reason. I'm thinking it's because your website is actually a WEBSITE and not a blog?? Am I right on that?

  3. Hey Andrew where did you find this one? I can't find it anywhere.

    1. I actually found it a few years ago on a site that I don't even think exists anymore. It had a link to download and so I've just had it stored on my computer since then.


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