Here's an excerpt from my piece for The New Beverly on Lee Frost's Dixie Dynamite and missing Warren Oates... Read the entire piece here. And don't miss it at on the big screen in beautiful 35 MM at the New Beverly tonight!
When Warren Oates leaves a certain kind of movie, you notice. You miss him. You feel a sense of longing, the way you feel about a character actually dying in film or literature too soon like Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet, or, worse, Josh Brolin never returning in No Country For Old Men. With Brolin, we are ill prepared for this loss and find ourselves processing his absence while watching the rest of the movie (I, did, anyway). For a delusional time we even wonder if Josh Brolin is ever going to come back. He’s killed off screen. Maybe something else happened? Maybe? Nope. He never returns. He’s dead. Warren Oates, in Dixie Dynamite, does return, thank god (I am not ruining anything here). He’s not dead. And he’s only gone for about fifteen minutes. But even in that short amount of time, you feel it, and you just want him there. And you begin to worry. Where the hell are you Warren Oates?
Well, we know where he is, sort of, but we start pondering just what else is he doing out there, out of camera frame, out of the town he already feels offset from (almost from another movie… did he go to back to that other movie he was in?). And, so, the longing begins to make sense. The plot picks up when he leaves (strangely, for we miss him), though the acting sags a little without his presence, but even that makes a weird sense too. As if people can’t act quite as natural without Warren Oates around. Something. Though there are legitimate reasons for all of the chaos to ensue during his leave, we start to even read more into the reasons for his departing, some kind of mysterious alternative off-screen sequence of events – like some other story untold or a Faulknerian stream of consciousness thought reflection that we’ll hear about later. (“If you could just ravel out into time. That would be nice. It would be nice if you could just ravel out into time.”) That’s how good he is. I actually thought of William Faulkner while watching Warren Oates in Dixie Dynamite.
Read it all here. And see it!