Eagle Pennell The Whole Shootin' Match

For anyone interested in the independently made late '70s reflection on native Texans, The Whole Shootin' Match, which inspired Robert Redford to start up the Sundance Institute, this package is the Holy Grail. It includes a restored print of the of the 1978 film, along with Eagle Pennell's short film A Hell of a Note, which includes commentary with actors Sonny Davis and Lou Perryman. If this weren't enough, there is also a feature-length documentary titled The King of Texas included, in addition to a CD with music from the films and a rare 1981 interview with the notorious filmmaker. While this is an impressive and thorough collection of material, it will not appeal to many outside of the cinephile crowd, as these movies hold up mainly as representations of a movement, rather than anything that could be enjoyed by a modern audience. Both flicks are essentially examinations of an archetype, as the characters within seek to get rich quick when not drinking and "lookin' for pussy." It's that whole living-by-the-seat-of-your-pants philosophy that defined a worldview of simultaneous cynicism and optimism, as the metaphorical possibility of "striking oil" always seemed to be around the corner. Given the constraints on productions — the film was shot on weekends with very little money and no support — the early works of Pennell are certainly impressive, and it is easy to see why they would inspire so many people to seek out independent film. They just aren't particularly engaging and feature a lot of terrible acting, bad dialogue and extras looking at the camera. On the upside, the term "assholes and elbows" is tossed out, pre-dating both Aliens and Full Metal Jacket, as far as military nomenclature in film goes. As far as supplements, the feature-length documentary included is certainly informative and relevant but is similar to the documentaries that are often included with Criterion releases: relevant contextually but nothing special outside of the DVD. Also included with the package is a 45-page book that features essays, reviews, clippings and everything else imaginable about the films and Eagle Pennell himself. (E1)