Close Up

31 December 2015: EasyOz: Close-Up New Year's Eve Party!


We're excited to invite you to celebrate New Year's Eve with a special double bill of Easy Rider and The Wizard of Oz! You know we can throw a good party. So come and join us to celebrate the last moments of this epic year at Close-Up with a wild combination of films, drinks and our eccentric staff music playlists to keep you dancing till the crack of dawn!

Easy Rider
Denis Hopper
USA | 1969 | 92 min | Colour | Digital

During the 1988 presidential campaign, George Bush used the film Easy Rider as an analogy for a passing era of laxness. He enthusiastically declared that Americans had left behind the easygoing Easy Rider era and entered a tougher Dirty Harry era. Bush stated "We have turned around the permissive philosophy of the 1970s, which made it easy to slip into a life of drug abuse and crime." In Bush's view, Clint Eastwood's "Go ahead, make my day" had replaced sentiments such as those of Civil liberties lawyer George Hanson’s (Jack Nicholson in E.R.) "This used to be a helluva country – I can't understand what's gone wrong with it" ...So, let’s rewind through the time machine of cinema... Easy Rider was "the" statement of a generation when it was released in the summer of 69 its cinematic shorthand style heralded a new kind of American film. With equivalence to Kerouac's stream of consciousness novel On the Road, Hopper’s film is a road movie and a western, a critical statement about America.  Hopper and Fonda ride hard tail choppers, with their tear drop tanks full of gas and stuffed with establishment greenback, our cosmic cowboys on their iron horses are reincarnations of Wyatt Earp and Billy the Kid American outlaw-legends, in search of freedom and an alternative economy? Watch them ride off into their impending American tragedy and not the American dream...

The Wizard of Oz
Victor Fleming
USA | 1939 | 101 min | Colour | 35mm

In 1900 author L. Frank Baum had no idea that his "modernized fairly tale" would attain immortality via the silver screen. Though not a hit on its release, The Wizard of Oz is a celluloid classic from the "Dream Academy" a permanent part of American popular culture, a political allegory an "ironic portrait" of America on the eve of a new century. Scholars make convincing parallels between Dorothy's yellow brick odyssey and the politics of Populism, the Agrarian revolt that gripped 1890s Midwest America. Dorothy's road trip is riddled with political allegory, with witches in the East and West – capitalism – a good witch in the North -- as a electoral mandate and the good of all – with her help Dorothy takes out the Wicked Witch of the East – the Eastern bankers – and frees The Munchkins – the proletariat – with the witch's silver slippers – the silver standard the unlimited coinage of silver and gold at a ratio of 16 ounces of silver to 1 ounce or Oz. Dorothy sets out on the Yellow Brick Road – the gold standard – to the Emerald City – Washington DC –, where she'll meet the Wizard – the President – who will help her return to Kansas. Judy Dorothy Garland the everywoman joins forces with a trio of common cause, a hearing with President Oz, her comrades are, the Scarecrow as mid west inferiority complex farmer, that cant "know anything" because he has "no brains at all," the Tin-woodman as the industrial worker whom at the hands of Big business has been reduced to a machine, a dehumanized worker who no longer feels, “has no heart” and a cowardly Lion William Jennings Bryan, the Nebraska Populist representative in Congress, all "roaring" rhetoric and an occasional portrayal as a loin in the press, at the same time seen by his critics as "cowardly" for opposing war with Spain in 1898, and last but by no means least, the hero Dorothy’s dog Toto representing (the dry, the tee-totler) the sensible prohibitionist who exposes "Oz, the Terrible" for what he is, a crooked old manipulative politician whose "power" is elaborate acts of deception and thus through his exposure as a fraudulent bastard, Dorothy and her pals get what they want! The triumph of populism? Or Ding Dong the witch is dead!

Programme notes by Louis Benassi