Monday, November 10, 2014

Jason goes to Midnites for Maniacs and gets a double bill of Cassavetes

First the junior Casavettes, Nick, John's son, with his melodrama THE NOTEBOOK (2004): This has become the go-to movie to hate to prove you're too cool for melodramas. Well...I won't argue with that, if you're too cool for melodramas then don't watch this movie. I wouldn't say that I'm a great fan of melodramas, but I am a great fan of Midnites for Maniacs and it's mission to take a serious look at overlooked or poorly regarded films. Melodramas make you feel things--sometimes things you don't really want to feel. Sometimes it's easier for the heart to harden and to just navigate life without feeling much. Melodramas break that. And this one, in particular, is very effective.

Damn, I just reviewed it without telling you anything about it. Well, it's ten years old, easy to find, and has been written about extensively. Its IMDb page has a good synopsis. Read that if you care.

And then the legendary John Casavettes with MINNIE AND MOSKOWITZ (1971): So I guess in introduction I should point out that Gena Rowlands--John's partner and Nick's mother--plays the aging version of the female lead (oops! spoiler alert!) in THE NOTEBOOK. And she plays Minnie Moore in MINNIE AND MOSKOWITZ, opposite Seymour Cassel's walrus-mustached Seymour Moskowitz. In his introduction, Jesse primed us to think of THE NOTEBOOK as a remake of MINNIE AND MOSKOWITZ, and both of those movies as the story of John Cassavetes and Gena Rowlands. Well, I can see that, but they're very different takes on the story. While THE NOTEBOOK presents a very, very romantic, graceful version (although full of fighting, heartache, and pain,) MINNIE AND MOSKOWITZ is many things, but nobody would accuse it of being graceful. In fact, it's kind of a subversion of the romantic comedy genre, hitting all the plot points--mismatched personalities challenge each other, they fall in love, there are bumps on the road, but ultimately love conquers all. But while the typical melodrama tugs at the heartstrings, MINNIE AND MOSKOWITZ--with it's hysterical yelling and crazy behavior--slaps you in the face instead. And just maybe a slap in the face is a better way to find love than the tugging of heartstrings.

Total Running Time: 237 minutes
My Total Minutes: 372,968

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