Day #42: Thee Headcoats – “You Broke My Very Mind”
In their recent Hollywood issue, Vanity Fair had an article about “The Most Influential Movie of the Last 30 Years.” Think about that for a second. Of all the movies that have been made since 1982, which among those would guess would be worth this distinction? Maybe one of the movies on this list?
Well you’d be wrong, sir! Unless, of course, you guessed Barry Levinson’s 1982 sleeper comedy, Diner. Because, that’s what S.L. Price came up with. He even dares to rile up a mob of angry nerds by going so far as to say it’s even more influential than Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner! (Oh yeah, he went there!!!).
But you’re probably thinking… what the hell is Diner? And, S.L. Price would be all… Shuttup! You Don’t know? Why, it’s only the original “show about nothing” that inspired a future of film and television shows about nothing! You know, films by guys like Richard Linklater and Quentin Tarantino and Judd Apatow, and shows like Seinfeld, where the characters may sit around having long, exhausting conversation about… well, about nothing. (Duh!)
“I wanted the piece to be without any flourish, without anything other than basically saying, ‘This is all it was,’ ” Levinson says. “These conversations that can go on endlessly through the night—bets over the stupid fucking things that you can bet on—is it. Without gimmicks: nothing. Without gimmicks. This is it. Period.”
(For that reason, Diner, had become a running joke in my family as the movie in which Grandma and Tom sat through and “waited and waited for something to happen, and then the movie was over.”)
It strikes me as odd, though, that the author landed on Diner as the All Mighty Movie of the last 30 years. Tom guessed that the author was probably young, and with no real background in film. I was under the impression that someone just happened to watch Diner and really, really liked it, and for them, that became the movie to measure all others because of what they got out of it. We all have one, I guess – the Favorite of favorite movies. Then, a Google search revealed that S. L. Price is a sports writer, and the choice made sense: a couple of characters in Diner are baseball fanatics.
But the style of film-making that Levinson is describing? John Cassavettes was doing that long before 1982 (and was probably Tarantino’s real source of inspiration). And, a bunch of French filmmakers were probably doing that even before him.