The Best Old Movies on a Big Screen This Week: NYC Repertory Cinema Picks, April 19-25

nyc repertory cinema-truck turner

Truck Turner (1974)
Directed by Jonathan Kaplan
Before he went legit, national treasure Jonathan Kaplan was one of the most raucous, lowdown, scuzzy directors of AIP gems. Mixing trashy pyrotechnics with a rare sort of charming dastardliness, his movies celebrated cads of every stripe. Truck Turner is one of his classics, and indeed one of the finest of the Blaxploitation films we have. Isaac Hayes—sleepy, mean, but lovable—is a skip tracer who crashes purposefully through every assignment. Kaplan presents a buffet of subcultural succulence, each new custom observed by the pimps and bounty hunters has the richness of a National Geographic feature. Take the funeral for smalltimer Gator, which brings out a rogue’s gallery of LA’s sex workers, dolled up in rainbow afros, diamond-studded eyepatches and more furs than there are in Redwood National Park. Of course none of this would matter without the commitment of each performer. Nichelle Nichols and Yaphet Kotto are as thunderously alive as Hayes is hungover and their chemistry is something to behold. Nichols doesn’t need anyone, of course. Her raving monologues and impossibly sleazy come-ons ought to earn her an honorary degree from the Actor’s Studio. Hayes and his famous scoring are like a fat filet in the middle of the bountiful feast that is Truck Turner, but Nichols is the seasoning, sides, wine and dessert. Scout Tafoya (April 24, 9:30pm at the Alamo Drafthouse, presented by programmer and Brooklyn Magazine contributing film critic Steve Macfarlane)

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