Rumble Fish ★★★★

Visually striking, ambitious adaptation of S.E. Hinton’s coming-of-age novel, its screenplay co-written by her and Coppola, is a stylized mood-piece with a solid story of two brothers at its core.  Motorcycle Boy (played with aloof, existential energy by Mickey Rourke, in a role where his soft-spoken but tough demeanor seems to have influenced actors like Bruce Willis and Norman Reedus) was his old gang’s leader in Tulsa before getting on his bike and riding to California.  Left behind in his wake is his little brother Rusty James (played with intricate complexity by a 19 year old Matt Dillon — at first I thought he was over-the-top, but after processing his progression through the film, especially after his brother returns, I realized those earlier scenes were him posturing and overcompensating during his brother’s absence, trying to fill those shoes).  Dennis Hopper is uncharacteristically subdued and subtle as their alcoholic but educated father, and he seems to be floating along in the periphery of their lives like a broken-winged bird who’s lost all thought of future flight.  
             An 18 year old Diane Lane plays Rusty James’ love interest and she damn near steals the movie in some scenes, showing remarkable range for such a young age.  
             This film would mark Coppola’s departure from the Hollywood Machine, for better or worse, and his homage to German Expressionism and film noir (in a way, this was his own Touch of Evil) is a timeless tribute to artistic, personal filmmaking.

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