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Five Easy Pieces (1970) - Bob Rafelson

Five Easy Pieces

Five Easy Pieces is a 1970 film which tells the story of a concert pianist (played by Jack Nicholson) who is estranged from his family. In the opening of the film the character is working as an oil rigger. When his father becomes ill, he goes to confront the family, taking his diner waitress girlfriend with him. It stars Jack Nicholson, Karen Black, Billy Green Bush, Fannie Flagg and Sally Struthers.

The movie was written by Carole Eastman (as Adrien Joyce) and Bob Rafelson, and was directed by Rafelson.

The title refers to a beginner's primer for the piano, consisting of five simple songs. However, the five piano pieces referred to in the film are anything but.

It was nominated by Academy Awards for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Jack Nicholson), Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Karen Black), Best Picture and Best Writing, Story and Screenplay Based on Factual Material or Material Not Previously Published or Produced.

In 2000 the United States Library of Congress deemed the film "culturally significant" and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Five_Easy_Pieces [Nov 2004]

  • Five Easy Pieces (1970) - Bob Rafelson [Amazon.com]
    This subtle, existential character study of an emotionally distant outcast (Nicholson) forced to confront his past failures remains an intimate cornerstone of American '70s cinema. Written and directed with remarkable restraint by Bob Rafelson, the film is the result of a short-lived partnership between the filmmaker and Nicholson--the first was the zany formalist exercise, Head, while the equally impressive King of Marvin Gardens followed Five Easy Pieces. Quiet and full of long, controlled takes, this film draws its strength from the acutely detailed, nonjudgmental observations of its complex protagonist, Robert Dupea--an extremely crass and frustrated oil worker, and failed child pianist hiding from his past in Texas. Dupea spends his life drinking beer and sleeping with (and cheating on) his annoying but adoring Tammy Wynette-wannabe girlfriend, but when he learns that his father is dying in Washington State, he leaves. After the film transforms into a spirited road movie, and arrives at the eccentric upper-class Dupea family mansion, it becomes apparent that leaving is what Dupea does best--from his problems, fears, and those who love him. Nicholson gives a difficult yet masterful performance in an unlikable role, one that's full of ambiguity and requires violent shifts in acting style. Several sequences--such as his stopping traffic to play piano, or his famous verbal duels with a cranky waitress over a chicken-salad sandwich--are Nicholson landmarks. Yet, it's the quieter moments, when Dupea tries miserably to communicate and reconcile with his dying father, where the actor shows his real talent--and by extension, shows us the wounded little boy that lurks in the shell of the man Dupea has become. --Dave McCoy, amazon.com

    Karen Black

    Karen Black (born July 1, 1942) is an American actress, writer, singer, and songwriter. She has well over one hundred films to her credit.

    Karen Black was animated into an epidode of the television series The Family Guy in the episode "Death is a B**ch". The scene was followed with the line: "Karen Black, what an obscure reference." --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karen_Black [May 2005]

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