Oh god, fuck this awful month - zero energy for much more than work (and hardly enough for that even), but it's coming back to me. Meanwhile, I've watched all of Seinfeld
three times these last twelve months. A tonic, that. I have managed to watch and write about this though:
Bruno de Almeida - On the Run
Typically torn about this, as so often with American films. It is nice, first off, for a Sopranos
-addict like myself to see so many actors from that series in the same movie. (Same casting agents, so natch.) Sharon Angela especially is awesome in her role as boozy femme in a sleazy bar. Though, this is so much Il sorpasso
that it’s almost silly - if it isn’t an avowed take on that film, Dino Risi should certainly have things to say to the people responsible here. It even has the same car crash ending, though here the bad guy dies.
If you know the Italian film, you know the plot: escaped convict Louis looks up childhood friend Albert, a mawkish travel agent, and they embark on a wild night on the town. Scripted by Joseph Minion, who also penned After Hours
for Scorsese, you certainly recognise the terrain. Curious, this is both an improvement on that script, and it makes me miss that earlier film. After Hours
is a bit puerile, especially in the latter parts of the film, everything collapsing into a shrieking vaudeville of cackling castration. But the first part has genuine bite, a finely sustained play of attraction-repulsion between Griffin Dunne and Rosanna Arquette. That bite is missing here, though. The acting is brilliant, a real improvisatory feel and flow - watch out for a tiny Agnes Jaoui cameo. A heavy theatre background here (must be - haven’t done much research), and this is a bit of a problem, as I find often with these ensemble pieces. It bears comparison to a European strain of explosive naturalism - think the thronged energies of Patrice Chereau or Maurice Pialat, those glorious scenes of drunken violence with Bong in Memories of Murder
. (The director is Portuguese.) But here, there is a proscribed, restrained feel to everything, affect and energy telegraphed way in advance. Things don’t erupt, implode or explode with any kind of force or heft, they just sort of happen. You know that there’s going to be trouble with the bouncer in the peepshow, you know that the flirtation struck up between Sharon Angela and John Ventimiglia in the bar is heading south, and badly. The poker game will turn sour and hostile, sure. And you don’t care. Think Larry Peerce’s The Incident
, Bette Gordon’s Variety
, Abel Ferrara, Scorsese with the mentioned After Hours
or King of Comedy
, further along with Safdie’s Good Time
- and realise to your dismay that this delivers not very much on either of these. No, this has more the lazy coasting of Jim Jarmusch, American indie at its most noodling, and this does not commend it at all to this viewer. But it is better than that, Manhattan certainly looks great, the acting is great, and maybe all movies don’t have to cut and bleed. Torn, as I said.