I hadn’t watched this in a long time, didn’t remember a ton, and kept hearing people praise it. I still find it pretty medium, maybe hurt the most by the casting of the main character. Dunne just doesn’t do much for me and his performance makes it confusing how I’m supposed to take certain things in the film. I know it partially wants to be a dark comedy, lynch-lite, but i’m not sure if the film wants me to laugh at the city or the protagonist. I almost get the feeling it is making fun of the yuppy fear of downtown new york in the 80s, but if that is the case, it doesn’t go far enough.
This feels like a companion piece to Public Speaking – a well done if reserved tribute to not only a New York institution, but to a nostalgic idea of a bygone era of American intellectualism. Even the jazz used is a deliberate evocation of a time when, allegedly, more complicated forms were part of the larger consciousness. I wasn’t alive then and I’m not sure how true it is. I love many of the people featured – James Baldwin, Gore Vidal, Joan Didion are some of my favorite people, but it brings up uneasy feelings in me. I love these things too and I’m ready to jump on with Marty, to long for the days of seriousness, but I also think that can be stifling to progress, that it is a sign of them (me) being out of touch. And yet when I try to think of current equivalents for a lot of these people I can’t. There are people just as talented and smart, but I’m not sure they get the platform that was allowed to some of the people featured. I don’t know. A pleasant film that certainly has me thinking.