1971 // USA - UK // Richard C. Sarafian // January 31, 2009 // Netflix Instant
Vanishing Point definitely plays like a work from another era, in the worst and best sense. The "Can't Drive 55" spirit that the film seizes upon—which it shares with the much zanier The Cannonball Run—unfortunately dates the film as an artifact from an era when a national speed limit was a hot political button. That said, what's most appealing about Vanishing Point is how eagerly and even joyously it strives to present a generous, oddball-ridden slice of early 1970s America. The on-location shooting lends it a documentary look and texture, but the characters are so deliberately out-there, it never feels remotely like realism. I mean, c'mon: the naked biker girl; the faith healers; the blind, black DJ in a shitheel desert town; the old rattlesnake catcher who turns up out of nowhere? Delicious stuff, if you can stand it. And for all the hurtling cars, this strangely-placed, slow-motion shot of a basket of snakes flying through the air is what most caught my eye.