Monday, February 17, 2014

256 of 1001 Movies: Diner (1982)

This whole movie just turned into one big game of trying to figure out which was Mickey Rourke! It was so distracting. If I had remembered that Barry Levinson directed The Natural I might have remembered how boring his movies are. There is a lot of story and you and you tell it's a movie really pushing to get the characters moving. It seems to drift to nowhere, but the guys at least make the characters shine with their acting as if they are real people, so they make it work despite the lack of enthralling story.

Summary: Eddie, Shrevie, Boogie, and Timothy are college aged, and living in 1959 in Baltimore. There is an impending passage into adulthood lurking over their heads though that they haven't been accepting. For some it might mean stepping up to be present in their marriage, or even becoming a man to marry, or it means owning up to your debts. Whatever way their lives are going adulthood isn't proving to be an easy passage as some know what they want, but have trouble getting it, or some don't know what they want at all.

Acting: Eddie is the guy that seems to make all these friends revolve. His marriage seems to be tying their stories back all together. Steve Guttenberg portrays Eddie, and does a good job, but his character is the least interesting of the cast. There were others who were much more interesting. Daniel Stern is Shrevie, and well honestly he plays sort of a jerk. He's married to a woman, Beth, who seems to have fizzled out of chemistry with him. Ellen Barkin portrays Beth beautifully though. Just as Shrevie Beth has her own problems, but there is just something very unlikable about Shrevie. The depiction of young love that has tired out because of the sex basis seems true to life though. Mickey Rourke is Boogie and Rourke shows his very early acting skills, and proves to be a very likable character even though he's a guy who doesn't seem too serious about women. Kevin Bacon also stars as Timothy, who honestly was the one I wanted to see more of. The guy seems to have a lot of issues, but isn't explored as much as he could be. Tim Daly is Howard, and also features an interesting dynamic that just doesn't feel explored. There is also Paul Reiser in the movie as Modell, and honestly his character just didn't add anything.

Filming: The movie is definitely set on just capturing these characters naturally playing out their situation. Not much is added to the vibe as far as shots or even music, but the music tries to immerse you as realistically as possible in the circumstance of the characters. So much so that Levinson let some parts be improvised by the crew so it felt more real as far as the emotions and bonding between the guys. All I could think though is that Baltimore must be boring.

Plot: I guess sometimes I feel the movie is going to go there, and do something dramatic to pull me in, but just as I think that it goes the other way and becomes dull. The vibe of the movie is just pulling too hard to be feel good. Since the script was a loose basis for everyone to interact by I believe some of the direction is lost, and their lives seem even more unfocused. The characters though do have moments where they pull you into their story, but it only usually occurs with a couple of them and not the whole cast.

Diner works in some ways, and it isn't a badly done film. I can see the intellectual appeal about the movie. The cast though didn't have the chemistry to always pull off those emotional moments that the director seemed to be looking for, and in a way it reminded me of how The Natural fell flat as well despite the top notch cast.

Rating 7 of 10.

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