I had some other duties I had to attend to today, including moderating a panel discussion on the West Memphis 3 and the media that Gerard got some footage of and will hopefully upload sometime soon, so here’s a belated reaction to the festival’s opening night film. Look for more coverage tonight, tomorrow and through the weekend.
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If you’re a part of the Arkansas film community, you’ll probably want to see Harry Thomason’s “The Last Ride.” For one, it’s a great primer on shooting a period road trip movie without leaving Pulaski County. You’ll watch it like you’re on a scavenger hunt: There’s the covered bridge in Burns Park. There’s downtown Argenta, even with brief glimpses of Cregeen’s Irish Pub and Cornerstone Pub with Chris Denny’s name on the marquee, standing in for downtown Knoxville, with North Little Rock City Hall doubling as a hotel. That’s the bridge at the Old Mill that the main characters pee off of during a roadside bathroom break. And that’s Cuz Fisher’s, reborn briefly, for a diner scene. Also, you’ll find plenty of familiar faces in the cast: Ray McKinnon, Natalie Canerday, Graham Gordy, David Bazzel, Gary Newton, Greg Spradlin, Jennifer Pierce and the late Rick Dial, just to name a few.
Otherwise, I can’t think of any other reason to recommend this fictionalized take on the last days of Hank Williams. There’s no character development. No conflict that’s not formulaic. And the only action — some wild highway driving and a bar fight — looks like something out of a “Dukes of Hazzard” episode.