The Best Old Movies on a Big Screen This Week: NYC Repertory Cinema Picks, October 7-13

american dreamer

The American Dreamer (1971)
Directed by Lawrence Schiller and L.M. Kit Carson
Filmed during the editing of his infamously outré Hollywood disaster The Last Movie, this captivating docu-fiction portrait of director Dennis Hopper at the peak of his drug-fueled, quasi-mystic phase of ass-backward fame and fortune is both companion piece to a ceaselessly fascinating film and a standalone revelation all its own. Capturing Hopper at work and play in the New Mexico desert, the film consists primarily of stream-of-conscience insights and inanities from one of cinema’s great charlatans, here elevating his persona into the pantheon of acid-fried geniuses. Episodes of the director waxing philosophical on the artistic process (at one point off-handedly comparing his sure-to-be-misunderstood latest to The Magnificent Ambersons) sit side-by-side with orgiastic displays of group foreplay and creatively cleansing experiments in public nudity. Hopper’s natural charisma and slyly self-reflexive nature turn what could be a mess of pretension into a revealing mediation on creativity and the precariousness of inspiration. Jordan Cronk (October 11, 5pm at BAM; Q&A with Schiller follows screening of new digital restoration)