Yo, Amazon — What About Screening The New Linklater in Cannes?

Richard Linklater‘s Last Flag Flying, a kind of long-throw, post-9/11 sequel to Hal Ashby‘s The Last Detail (’73), is being research-screened in Pasadena on Wednesday evening. If it’s good enough to test-screen, why not take a whirl on a Cannes Film Festival showing? This is precisely the sort of little film that could actually benefit from a successful Cote d’Azur showing. Based on Daryl Poniscsan’s 2005 novel, it focuses on a reunion between Badass Buddusky, Mulhall (a.k.a. “Mule”) and Larry Meadows, who were played in Ashby’s film by Jack Nicholson, Otis Young (who died in ’01) and Randy Quaid. Flying stars Bryan Cranston (Buddusky), Laurence Fishburne (Mule) and Steve Carell (a much shorter Meadows…maybe he shrank in the Portsmouth brig?).

(l. to r.) Last Flag Flying‘s Laurence Fishburne, Bryan Cranston, Steve Carell.

(l. to r.) Randy Quaid, Jack Nicholson, Otis Young in Hal Ashby’s The Last Detail.

By the way: I’ve just received a Region 2 Bluray of The Last Detail, and it looks as good as possible, given that it was never intended to look all that great in the first place — the idea was to deliver something chilly and stark and 16mm-ish — immaculate soothing visuals were never part of the game plan.

Nice little Amazon blurb:

The Last Detail nearly didn’t get a release. Columbia, for whom it was made, was alarmed by the movie’s barrage of profanity and resented the unorthodox working style of its director, Hal Ashby, who loathed producers and made no secret of it. Only when the film picked up a Best Actor Award for Jack Nicholson at Cannes did the studio reluctantly grant it a release –with minimal promotion — to widespread critical acclaim.

“Nicholson, in one of his best roles, plays Badass Buddusky, a naval petty officer detailed, along with his black colleague “Mule” Mulhall (Otis Young), to escort an offender from Virginia to the harsh naval prison at Portsmouth, NH. The miscreant is a naïve youngster, Meadows (Randy Quaid), who’s been given eight years for stealing $40 from his CO’s wife’s favorite charity. The escorts, at first cynically detached, soon start feeling sorry for Meadows and decide to show him a good time in his last few days of freedom.

“Ashby, a true son of 60s counterculture, avidly abets the anti-authoritarian tone of Robert Towne’s script. Meadows is a sad victim of the system — but so too are Buddusky and Mulhall, as they gradually come to realize.

“A lot of the film is very funny. Nicholson gets to do one of his classic psychotic outbursts — “I am the fucking shore patrol!” — and there are some pungent scenes of male bonding pushed to the verge of desperation. But the overall tone is melancholy, pointed up by the jaunty military marches on the soundtrack.

“Shot amid bleak, wintry landscapes, in buses and trains and gray urban streets, The Last Detail is a film of constant, compulsive movement going nowhere — a powerful, finely acted study of institutional claustrophobia.”

  • Jon B

    The movie is a 1970s masterpiece with a great bittersweet ending. The Last Detail is without a doubt Jack Nicholson’s greatest performance. What a great angry man performance by Nicholson! Nicholson even thought this was the best thing he’s ever done. I know I read that somewhere.

    It is amazing how many people I know who claim to love Nicholson but have never even heard of this film. (Bill Paxton selected this film as one of his three favorite films on TCM.) Here is the thing:The actors who are in the new movie are quality people. I will see this, but I think it might’ve been a good final film for Jack Nicholson. People want Nicholson to have a proper send-off. Pity.

    Fascinating to me, I always felt the late Otis Young should’ve worked more. He was equally impressive in the film, yet he mainly worked in television throughout the rest of his career. Why?

    • Mark Henry Hopper

      Nicholson’s taking his victory lap with the Toni Erdmann remake.

      • Jeff

        Ayup and barring a catastrophe he is going to be nominated for Best Actor.

        • Franny P

          I saw this movie in a film class and for the first time in my life, I remember thinking, now that is acting. Been a number one fan of Jack ever since. JN puts his heart and soul into his roles, heck Ironweed n-o one saw and it is a shame as that ranks with his best work, thus the homage of Franny P. If you have not seen this movie you will be in for a treat. Two masters at their best. By the way go green- great to see the Spartans back to winning in the NCAA. JN would have made a great Tom Izzo

  • brenkilco

    Kind of a slap in the face to Quaid. Bet he could use the work.

    • Dr. New Jersey

      Probably best to have a whole new cast if you can’t get all the originals.

  • Dave Billet

    Meadows: [looking at porn] Are they really doing that when they take that picture?
    Buddusky: [pause] Well kid, there’s more things in this life than you can possibly imagine. I knew a whore once in Wilmington. She had a glass eye… used to take it out and wink people off for a dollar.

    They just don’t write em like that anymore.

  • K. Bowen

    The more and more I think about it, the higher my opinion of Everybody Wants Some. There are a lot of pat movies about being on a team. There really isn’t one about what it really means to be on a team – working together, getting past differences, etc. But there are too few about what it really means, when you consider it’s a quietly essential to understanding male lives.

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    • Ben Kabak

      Would’ve been better with even a touch of a plot.

  • Joe.Leydon

    Didn’t the Badass Buddusky character die at the end of Darryl Ponicsan’s original 1970 novel?

    • Ekko

      Yes, he did, so I was wondering the same thing. I guess he wrote a sequel based on the movie like David Morrell did with Rambo?