Last Chants for a Slow Dance (1977)





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Movie Info

The title Last Chants for a Slow Dance is probably the least confusing aspect of this early Jon Jost production. Filmed in 8mm on a $2000 budget in 1977, the film was "blown up" to 16mm for theatrical release in 1983. An existential, largely improvised political diatribe, Last Chants has a plot that begs description. When it's not wallowing in profanity, it is pockmarked with violence. Like all past and future Jon Jost projects, the film tends to divide audiences right down the middle as to assessing its value. In addition to directing, Jost wrote, photographed, and edited the film, and also composed the songs.
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Critic Reviews for Last Chants for a Slow Dance

All Critics (1)

Has a gut-pinching rawness to its modern-day portrait of a wannabe cowboy drifter, turned killer, who is spiritless, opinionated, ignorant and dangerously macho.

Full Review… | April 13, 2013
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Audience Reviews for Last Chants for a Slow Dance

Last Chants for a Slow Dance (Jon Jost, 1977) The cinematic language found in Jon Jost's obscure, yet legendary, first film, Last Chants for a Slow Dance, is obvious in retrospect; it's a combination of the avant-garde cinema verite approach of John Cassavettes' early films (especially Faces) and the love affair with the long, slow shot that we have come to associate with the Eastern Europeans (Tarkovsky and Bela Tarr in particular). It should be no surprise, then, that Last Chants for a Slow Dance landed on the thousand-best lists of both Jonathan Rosenbaum and Steven Jay Schneider, both of whom have Tarkovsky's Andrei Rublev, Stalker, and Solaris (Schneider also includes Mirror) andâ"well, let's just say Rosenbaum's list contains seven Cassavettes flicks and Schneider's four (including, of course, both Faces and Shadows) on their thousand-best lists as well. Jost being a relatively perfect distillation of the two, it was a given, really. Last Chants for a Slow Dance is a character study of Tom (Tom Blair, who would team up with Jost again for two films in the nineties), an unlikable drifter who wanders through Montana half-heartedly searching for a job and angering just about everyone he comes into contact with, including his long-suffering wife. Tom is not a guy you want to spend ninety minutes with, and there are a lot of things about this movie (both intentional and not, since thirty years out it's tough to find a print of this that isn't horribly degraded) that reinforce that impression, and yet it remains an absorbing character study. Jost accomplishes this through the way he reveals Tom's character to us; every time you think you've got him figured out, we get just a little more. Not to say this is a film rife with plot twists or anything along those lines; in fact, the entire movie takes place over five extended scenes, each of which gives us a slightly different aspect of Tom. In general, each scene is structured around a single shot (think of the infamous ten minute single-angle shot in Haneke's Funny Games or any of those fifteen-minute monstrosities that make up Bela Tarr's Satantango), and around Tom's interaction with one character. Each alone gives us a picture; together, they give us something else entirely. Perhaps the most impressive thing about this movie is that, according to the final title card, Jost made it for about $2,000. Even adjusting for inflation, that's a mighty small sum of money to make a movie. And it goes to show that if you know what you're doingâ"and that's obviously relative, given that this was Jost's first featureâ"you don't need money to tell a compelling story on film. Highly recommended. ****

Robert Beveridge
Robert Beveridge

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