As it circles the life and legacy of actor, artist and filmmaker Dennis Hopper, the documentary “Along for the Ride” uses the standard tools of the medium, but it follows his renegade spirit and produces something entirely unique. With its atmospheric score from Gemma Thompson, attention to visual style and devotion to art, it is a film that its own subject might have appreciated.
Based on conversations between director Nick Ebeling and Hopper’s right-hand man Satya De La Manitou, “Along for the Ride” is almost exclusively in black and white, combining archival footage, photographs, film clips and contemporary interviews to explore Hopper’s work, primarily as a director. It spends a good chunk of its running time on “The Last Movie,” his first film after “Easy Rider,” which left him blacklisted in Hollywood.
While “Along for the Ride” does cover Hopper’s addictions and struggles, Ebeling’s film deifies the actor-director. It worships his talent above all, covering selected moments of his career in detail and glossing over others. This documentary won’t provide an exhaustive view of his filmography or life offscreen, but it paints an impressionistic picture that feels almost experimental at times. Simultaneously arty and artful, it refuses to take the standard approach and it will reward cinephiles who want something different than most film biographies can offer.
‘Along for the Ride’
Running time: 1 hour, 36 minutes
Playing: Laemmle NoHo 7, North Hollywood