It's been a while since I last participated in "Hit Me With Your Best Shot", a wonderful series hosted by The Film Experience -whose own Nathaniel Rogers I just had the pleasure to meet during a screening of Monsters University- but I do love having an excuse to watch (or rewatch amazing films) and then share my favorite shots.
I had never seen George Lucas' American Graffiti despite noticing the VHS tape more than once at my local Blockbuster when I was a kid, but let me tell you, I am quite happy I did. The Star Wars prequel have left such a bad taste in my mouth that watching such a refreshingly unassuming film from Lucas was quite an experience. It's that one-night-of-teenage-shenanigans kind of movie, but if you're anything like me, then you know those can be wonderful when done well. And this one is very entertaining in its love for rock n' roll, cars and early 1960s Americana.
Unlike Lucas', my relationship to cars is quite antagonistic. I am very unfamiliar with car culture. I mostly see them as polluting/isolation machines and I do wish more people around the world could rely on public transport instead of individual cars. I never had a car, I learned how to drive relatively late and now I live in New York. I can't really relate that much to the kids in American Graffiti's wanting to drive fast cars and impress girls, but I can absolutely relate to riding in the backseat.
This moment with Richard Dreyfuss' Curt is what I can relate to. Riding in the backseat means noticing things the driver and whoever's riding shotgun don't. And it also means not being in a charge. There's no better way to get to the essence of seating on the back than when Curt sees a hot girl who suddenly shows interest in him, but is not be able to follow her just because he isn't driving. Steve and Laurie have their own thing going on so they basically couldn't care less about whatever's going on in Curt's mind. Riding in the back is basically the same as seating on a baby's car seat. As a guy who wasn't that much interested in cars, I've been there many times. You can't escape car culture, its weird rules and hierarchies even if you wanted to. If aliens come to earth they'll probably think this planet is inhabited by four-wheeled machines infested with two-legged parasites.
I don't know if picking these images is exactly fair. I don't have extensive knowledge about cinematography, so when it comes to movie visuals and "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" I tend to go for more character-centric moments or sequences instead of just one visually striking shot. Anyway, that's just me and I hope readers of the series won't mind.