Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

02 March 2007

Buddy Comedy

Remember Steve Guttenberg? I do, but barely. Well, today I watched the 1982 Barry Levinson drama (comedy?) Diner. The film stars Kevin Bacon, Daniel Stern, Mickey Rourke, Paul Reiser, Tim Daly (whose name I could not, for the life of me, recall) and a superb Ellen Barkin. Steve Guttenberg is first-billed. I didn't really think much of the film, but then, I am not nostalgic for the 1950s. I don't think I will ever understand the obsessive hearkening back to the 50's as the be-all end-all of Americana. Why is everyone so sentimental about that decade? And Diner isn't at all a deconstruction of the decade. It's more of a love letter, an homage to marriage as an institution and an ode to male friendship and homosocial bonding. It's all very hetero. It wasn't my cup of tea, but I'm not usually a fan of Levinson's work and I guess I shouldn't have expected too much. I have to say, though, it was very cool to see all of those guys so young.

And a couple weeks ago I saw the ridiculous Tony Goldwyn remake of Gabriele Muccino's The Last Kiss starring Zach Braff, Casey Affleck, Jacinda Barrett, Tom Wilkinson and Blythe Danner. The film is very stupid and, of course, derivative. The script for The Last Kiss is based directly on Muccino's L'Ultimo Bacio (a film I loved), which was based on Fellini's I Vitelloni. The Goldwyn film was written by Paul Haggis and, while it contains most of the plot points of the original, fails to retain any of the emotional resonance and power of L'Ultimo Bacio. In fact, the film paints all women as either whores or shrews. The men, really aren't any better. They behave as though they are in a script by Neil LaBute, continually doing hateful things to one another and behaving as though all of those things are okay. The role suits Braff, but the writing is so terrible that his talents are wasted. Ditto Blythe Danner's performance, which is easily one of her best performances ever. (And I think she's quite good in Sylvia and downright brilliant in Mr. & Mrs. Bridge.) I wish I could recommend the film just for Danner's work in it, but the film is so infuriating, I wouldn't dare recommend it to anyone. Roommate and I both wanted to throw things at our television screen. Paul Haggis (who is everywhere these days) did, as I recall, a great job of making me hate everyone in his film Crash, and with The Last Kiss he's done it again.