ALONG FOR THE RIDE (Nick Ebeling, 2017)
7 Ludlow St. between Canal & Hester Sts.
Opens Friday, November 3
Just about everyone who has ever seen Easy Rider has imagined themselves on a bike, rumbling across the country with Captain America (Peter Fonda) and Billy (Dennis Hopper), experiencing whatever comes their way. Newark native Satya de la Manitou did more than that, becoming Hopper’s friend and right-hand man for more than forty years. Their intimate and crazy friendship is told in Nick Ebeling’s debut feature documentary, Along for the Ride, which opens today at Metrograph. It would take quite a character to have spent that much time with Hopper — and live to tell about it — and Satya is just that kind of human being, a tough but sensitive, direct, bold man who leads a wild journey into Hopper’s creative process and personal demons. Ebeling follows Satya as he visits with Hopper’s brother, David; actors Russ Tamblyn, Dean Stockwell, and Michael Madsen (who reads a poem he wrote about Dennis); producers Danny Selznick, Lawrence Schiller, and Fred Caruso; directors Philippe Mora, Wim Wenders, and David Lynch; artists Ed Ruscha and Julian Schnabel and gallerist Tony Shafrazi; musicians and composers Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett (of GORILLAZ) and Mark Mothersbaugh (of DEVO); and architect Frank Gehry, who sheds a tear when talking about Dennis. Together, they provide a fascinating look into the depth of Hopper’s abilities as an actor, director, photographer, art lover, drug user, and center of attention. “He did everything well, like most geniuses do,” Satya explains.
Ebeling, who wrote the film with A. P. Menzies and photographed it with Randy Wedick and editor Danny Reams, weaves between stunning archival footage that goes behind the scenes of such Hopper directorial efforts as the controversial The Last Movie, Out of the Blue, Colors, and Easy Rider and his roles in Apocalypse Now, and Blue Velvet and new, starkly shot black-and-white interviews with Satya as he speaks right into the camera, digs through boxes and boxes of unlabeled paraphernalia, and gets comfortable with Hopper’s friends, family, and colleagues. The killer soundtrack is by Gemma Thompson of Savages, making you feel you’re right there in the middle of all this wonderful strangeness. Satya himself is a larger-than-life figure, with a dynamic presence, distinctive voice, and inner peace and joy that make it simple to understand why the eccentric Hopper was drawn to him, and why Satya was drawn to Hopper. “Dennis was like a precious gem, and a gem needs to be polished to attain its true brilliance,” Satya says. Hopper died in 2010 at the age of seventy-four; Satya has given his friend quite a fond farewell with this sweet film. Ebeling, Satya, and producer Sheri Timmons will participate in a Q&A after the 7:00 show on November 3. In conjunction with the theatrical release of Along for the Ride, Metrograph is presenting “Directed by Hopper,” consisting of The Last Movie, Out of the Blue, Colors, The Hot Spot, and Easy Rider.