Category Archives: Feature

Breathless in New York

I’ve often said that if life were a film, I’d want to live in a screwball comedy. Slamming doors, verbal wars, false identities and a cast slowly losing their minds are things that always amuse me, but they’re difficult to find.Do modern actors study screwball comedies to perfect timing and chemistry? If not, they should. The classics did everything better, but a brief period in the 1980s saw a resurgence in zany screwball comedies that make for good Sunday afternoon viewing. Think Innerspace, Married to the Mob and Overboard.There were many attempts at romantic and screwball comedy in the nineties, some more successful than others; in Addicted to Love Meg Ryan attempted to marry both genres in the same film.Michael Hoffman’s One Fine Day had a different kind of styling, delighting in the sights and serendipities of life in New York City. The characters, situations, occupations and predicaments all seeming to belong to the carefree comedies found back in the 40s and 50s.Michelle Pfeiffer was in her element in the role of Melanie, a workaholic Big Apple architect who is sour on the idea of love. Similarly, George Clooney as journalist Jack Taylor brought his full charm to exactly the sort of slick, so charming that he must be insincere role that has become his trademark.The bubbly, screwball antagonism between them is a joy to watch, especially in the scene, set on a city sidewalk, where Jack and Melanie accuse each other of having complexes related to the works of J.M. Barrie.Besides their shared stories of mismatched love, Addicted to Love and One Fine Day are also great time capsules of fin de siècle New York. Pfeiffer, Ryan and The Big Apple have never looked better and who did haughty Hepburn better than Michelle? When the film was over, I wanted to see her character again in a few years time. Or next week. One Fine Day, the sitcom anyone?Hot on the heels of Michelle’s harassed heroine, Meg Ryan left her Meg Ryan-ness on the set of French Kiss, as she exploded onto the screen like a hybrid of Catwoman and Nurse Ratched. With those gorgeous, giant expressive eyes she’d have looked on Pfeiffer’s Melanie as a blonde extra who was being overpaid.The awful truth is, Meg Ryan had a quality that makes me think you could lift her out of the film and send her in a cinematic time machine: she could be the scatterbrained rich girl in My Man Godfrey, The Lady Eve‘s gold-digging seductress, ditzy dame Fran Kubelik in The Apartment, or any character in a film from the French New Wave.Ultimately Godard sums up her allure better than I ever could: “I don’t think you should feel about a film. You should feel about a woman, not a movie. You can’t kiss a movie.”

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