A full-on retrospective of Dennis Hopper would require a weeklong binge, but the Roxie’s mosty-35mm festival “Along for the Ride: A Tribute to Dennis Hopper” hits some of the more interesting beats. Hopper’s comeback, if not his entire post-Easy Rider career, is defined by his performance as the nitrite-huffing Frank Booth in David Lynch’s Blue Velvet, a turn that never fails to give the willies. Shot during a break in the filming of Blue Velvet, Hopper plays a record producer in Michael Almereyda’s A Hero of Our Time, loosely adapted from a Mikhail Lermontov novel.
Although the 28-minute Hero is the shortest of the films, the slightest is arguably Tony Scott’s Tarantino-scripted True Romance; while Hopper’s great in his extended cameo opposite Christopher Walken, it’s still Tarantino at his most self-indulgent and racially problematic. The biggest get of the festival may be the 1980 Out of the Blue, Hopper’s first directorial effort since The Last Movie, while a selection of Bruce Connor short films (on digital and 16mm) are also unmissable. Conspicuously absent from the Along for the Ride festival is the film that looms large over the concurrent Along for the Ride documentary: Hopper’s seldom-seen career-derailing masterpiece The Last Movie. Thankfully, it’s being restored and re-released next year, so the ride will finally be complete.
Along for the Ride: A Tribute to Dennis Hopper
Opens Friday at the Roxie Theater.