This cineaste is of course none other than yours truly, the writer who tends to walk off the beaten track and bring to your notice works and people who have greatly contributed in molding the modern world. Surely then there is no better recourse to know about ourselves than cinema.
As I promised, I turned around pages of my notebooks on which were written my earliest writings and here are my original thoughts, some brief and some more elaborate, on some of the greatest films that I watched on the channel from one of the premium movie making giants MGM. Today, I share with you two of the underrated gems that will find their place in the sun and which still warm the cockles of my heart. So read about them, watch them most importantly and remember the effort of discovery always begins with you. The affinity here has to be with stories universally attuned to our lives as they need to be told and seen; they honour every step of the process through which culture and our ethical make up passes . The two I talk about are receptacles of innate humanity that you and I espouse.
** OF MICE AND MEN(1992)
ECHO PARK (1986)
CAST: SUSAN DEY, TOM HULCE AND MICHAEL BOWEN.
DIRECTOR : ROBERT DORNHEIM.
ORIGINALLY WRITTEN ON 19TH MARCH, 2014.
Again, I watched this and OF MICE AND MEN without any prior knowledge and alas! I was stunned. That’s the miracle that MGM begets.
Coming back to the film:set in Los Angeles’ Echo Park neighborhood, the movie’s three principal protagonists- single mother May( Susan Dey), pizzeria delivery man Jonathan ( Academy Award and theatre veteran Tom Hulce of Amadeus fame) and body sculptor August ( Michael Bowen) – all cross paths on the sunset boulevard of their turn of the 30s lives. If you ask me, it’s a microcosm of people anywhere around the globe who dare to take on the big city gamble of truth being stranger than fiction and a pain in the derriere. Especially for diurnal survival.
Together, these three jazz up their mundane, monotonous existence and beat the blues. May compromises with her morals in lieu of getting an acting gig, August( a hero worshipper of his idol Schwarzenegger) makes do with an asinine deodorant advertisement for the time being to boost his ego while the prim and proper Jonathan juggles songwriting ideas to break into the limelight. Frankly, they all echo makings of every successful person who eventually achieved goals after multiple trysts with mediocrity and rejection and this inner life of apprehending what may be coming for them is interesting to a t.
Imperfect angels then to encounter in the city of angels. But I think there is a hero in all of them, an individuality all their own as they continue to march to their drummer and chase their dreams of escaping dark tides of anonymity.
Suffice to say, it’s a slice of life dramedy and an uniform plot will not meet your expectations. Life’s bittersweet ebbs and lows grounds it on a harbour of unvarnished reality ; tragedy and comedy is at the forefront. Languorous, witty, high on the trio’s effectual chemistry, ECHO PARK has plenty of loose ends and a feel that the events go nowhere. Nevertheless, that’s how our average days are and this MGM offering – underrated and with spare sensibilities – does the trick on that count.
A less evolved cousin perhaps of James L. Brooks’ high spirited AS GOOD AS IT GETS, which came out a good one decade later in 1997, Echo Park is minus that latter work’s chutzpah and mass appeal. But I don’t offset it by way of an unhealthy comparison. Both are equally memorable for me. I feel the design of the triptych is quite identical in both. Its sweet and sour simplicity makes it instantly accessible. The central cast here whips up a trifecta of spontaneity.
In the next post, I’ll write about OF MICE AND MEN since I do not want this one post to be crammed with too much writing and want to allot judicious space for better reading for you.