luni, 5 iunie 2023

The Goodbye Girl by Neil Simon, author of The Heartbreak Kid - 9 out of 10


The Goodbye Girl by Neil Simon, author of The Heartbreak Kid

9 out of 10



The Goodbye Girl has been a smash hit in 1977 when it was launched, the first romantic comedy to break the one hundred million dollars at the box office ceiling, winning for Richard Dreyfuss the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role (though he is probably better known for his part in the landmark Jaws, of which he talks in the excellent Easy Riders Ragging Bulls, with the delays, the eccentricity of Steven Spielberg, who convinced the executives with his…being normal, non-drinking, staying away from drugs, which was the plague of most other talent at the time, maybe even now) the youngest at thirty to be honored thus


More importantly, it has enthused and exhilarated me, a young man when I first saw it, and now, that I am at what Cicero (or some other sage from antiquity says, through the lectures of the majestic Andrei Plesu who has a splendid conference with Dilema Veche, in which he takes on old age, advantages and shortcomings) called the maturity stage, I find that the first encounter with The Goodbye Girl seems a bit too enthusiastic

Richard Dreyfuss does shine in the part (he is excellent in Whose Life Is It Anyway aside from Jaws) but he does not provoke the same exuberance, perhaps in part because I have read about King Richard III (‘now is the winter of our discontent turned into glorious summer by this Son of York and all the clouds that loured upon our skies in the deep bosom of the ocean buried’ does come a few times in the play, and these are among the most resplendent lines in literature, or at least until Chat GPT or some other concoction will come up with something even more sublime, if that is conceivable)


Elliot Garfield aka Richard Dreyfuss is to play Richard III and he has an artistic dispute with the director, the actor wants the king to have the hunchback, just like Laurence Olivier had played it, and some other deformities, while the outré director insists on the idea that Shakespeare was gay – there is the argument, sustained among others by the lines from the sonnet ‘a woman’s face with nature’s own hand painted, hast thou the master/mistress of my passion…’ and the result is indecision…

It is obviously meant to be amusing, and it is (or better said, it had been, when I was twenty or so, and found this new approach hilarious and enticing, while seen again yesterday, it appeared somewhat, or very gauche, maladroit) innovative for 1977, after all, it not only gained the Oscar for Dreyfuss, but it has also been nominated for Best Picture, Screenplay, Actress in a Leading and Supporting Roles…


The image of Richard III has been changed with the publication of the marvelous The Daughter of Time by Josephine Fey, in which the central character is investigating…the crimes committed by the infamous, monstrous king centuries before, only to find that the suspect was in fact condemned by posterity on false evidence, or none at all, hence we have here a myth and the creation of a character that is loathed because of Shakespeare, principally…

Ergo, seeing Richard Dreyfuss aka Elliot Garfield mocking the poor Richard III appears to be less enchanting than on the first take, when I had been ignorant of the discovery detailed in The Daughter of Time – incidentally, this fundamental mystery novel sits at Number one on the list of top 100 Crime Novels, as compiled by the writers in the genre – and the panache is lacking, the acting of the role of the king as if he was ‘an interior decorator gone wild’, with bizarre eccentricities has some appeal, but not that much


In fact, it could be construed differently, and if Elliot says at some point that the ‘gay community will crucify him’ or something like that, the film would not be produced today, or maybe it would, we have the example of Tar the film with many nominations, wherein Cate Blanchet portrays a lesbian director who is complex, but has a very loathsome side, something we might have thought would be censored, for activists for minorities rights  might reject the depiction of one who is a negative character and homosexual at the same time

As it is, there are various interpretations, and we could praise The Goodbye Girl for envisaging a William Shakespeare that was gay, at a time when that was more than frowned upon, and furthermore, exploring the notion that Richard III could be of the same orientation, have him grab others by their private parts, and overall, act as a drama queen, perhaps a bit over the top and finally antagonizing critics.


In the interpretation of this age, Shakespeare and Richard III would be ‘gender fluid’ – the co-winner of the Booker Prize for 2019 Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo argues that gender is the biggest lie of civilization, or something to that effect, and we are introduced, at least those of us unaware, to concepts like ‘non gender, two spirits’ – however that would work, the performance in this 1977 film is exuberant, remarkable

Only it does not have the effect it had some decades back, when it all seemed so exciting and breaking barriers, which it probably did, only somehow, with the passing of time, it now looks dated, not archaic, or ancient, but still, it does not have the same impact…I looked back at the list of nominees, and Richard Dreyfuss was competing with Marcello Mastroianni, Richard Burton for the Oscar (there are Woody Allen and John Travolta, both controversial, the former for his relationships with much younger women, the latter for the role in Scientology) so I would rather have Mastroianni or/and Burton get the trophy…


Now for a question, and invitation – maybe you have a good idea on how we could make more than a million dollars with this – as it is, this is a unique technique, which we could promote, sell, open the Oscars show with or something and then make lots of money together, if you have the how, I have the product, I just do not know how to get the befits from it, other than the exercise per se


As for my role in the Revolution that killed Ceausescu, a smaller Mao, there it is

85 out of 100 for Une Heure de Tranquilite aka Do Not Disturb

83 out of 100 for Gluck aka Bliss