Love Amongst the Sleep Deprived

Addicted to Love and One Fine Day are inextricably linked in my mind. Two of the last gasps of a vanishing genre. Both take place in New York, and both feature relationships between seemingly ill-matched couples. I’ve often watched these films as a double bill, in a rather obvious homage to each other, always realising they are far too different to be considered similar at all.Biker Chick MaggieAddicted to Love is set in Greenwich Village, and the city is treated as another character in this dark tale of jilted lovers Maggie (Meg Ryan) and Sam (Matthew Broderick), whose paths cross when they discover that their ex-partners are now living with each other. Sam hopes to win back the affections of school teacher Linda (Kelly Preston), but Maggie’s only intention is to see former lover Anton (Tcheky Karyo) “in pain, hopeless and finished off.”Linda and MaggieAddicted to Love may appear to function just like any other romantic movie, but you have to dig beneath the facade of this film to find its hidden layer of sweetness and silver linings. Director Griffin Dunne constantly surprises with his careful shot compositions, making the viewer as much of a spy as Ryan and Broderick, who use a camera obscura to observe their former flames, all the while hatching an elaborate plan to avenge their sadly-broken hearts.Love-Hate RobberyMeg Ryan trades in much of her usual sparkle here to play the abrasive, hard-drinking Maggie, and she was never as killingly beautiful, whether in biking leathers and feather boa, or red velvet jacket topped with a black turban. Travelling the streets of New York on a motorcycle she wears her hair short and unkempt,and a rasping voice is Maggie’s ultimate embellishment, used to wonderful effect to deliver a plethora of risqué lines to the straight-laced Sam.Maggie in the DarkroomThere’s never any real doubt about what’s going to eventually happen between this odd couple, and the main question is whether the 100 minutes between the beginning and the foregone conclusion can hold your attention. Addicted To Love delivers in spades, thanks to a healthy dose of clever dialogue and black humour, and a magnetic performance from Meg Ryan as Maggie.A Kiss CapturedIf you haven’t seen Addicted To Love I’d suggest you take a look at it. At first glance it might resemble When Maggie Met Sam in Soho via Cape Fear, but it did bring some originality to what had become a very predictable genre. If you’re prepared to give love a chance, this film might just surprise you.

One Fine DayIn contrast to the salacious and callous edge of Addicted to Love, Michael Hoffman’s One Fine Day is a captivating delight from beginning to end. It’s the perfect film to pass a wet Sunday evening, as you face the prospect of a brutal Monday morning at work. The formula is all too familiar. Strangers meet in a big city, and share a frisson of attraction. They then spend the rest of the movie resisting their feelings until, in accordance with the bylaws of the Hollywood Cliché Code, love finally conquers all.Gorgeous Pfeiffer, Smirking ClooneyDiametrically opposite Maggie and Sam in their “bohemian hellhole,” the bustling Upper East Side of New York is home to Melanie Parker (Michelle Pfeiffer) and Jack Taylor (George Clooney), two working single parents who meet-cute when their children miss a school field trip. Jack is a cavalier newspaper columnist, Melanie is a conscientious architectural technician. They’re both late for work, have their bosses breathing down their necks, and are in dire need of somebody to take their children off their hands. So despite their mutual antagonism, they reluctantly agree to join forces.Melanie in Soft FocusAnd so on. One Fine Day is the kind of movie you’ll sing along with, because Michelle Pfeiffer and New York City were never more beautiful. Across a myriad of rain-soaked locations, a wonderful lustre envelopes this film infusing it with a richness and romanticism. Where Addicted to Love is more overtly cerebral and sarcastic in its humour, the verbal sparring between Michelle and George is reminiscent of the legendary couples of Hollywood’s golden age. They’re perfectly matched, and even though it’s a given Jack will eventually sweep Melanie off her feet, the outcome of their liaison isn’t a clichéd moment-of-realisation scene, but a more intellectual accord between two eminently compatible people, who are tired of the tongue-tied multitude.Chivalrous Jack“Cinema is the history of boys photographing girls.” Or so Jean-Luc Godard has been quoted as saying. I thought of those words when watching the cool, buttoned-up Melanie Parker and coarsely sensual Maggie again recently. One can only gaze upon their luminous aura and wonder. How did they do that?


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Another Season, Another Reason

Whenever I wonder what constitutes a classic film The Fabulous Baker Boys is where I go for the answer. Like a great piece of jazz, its elements flawlessly chime together, placing you in a moment in time, amidst a romantic drama full of soul, emotion and strong character.Frank Jack and SusieFrank and Jack Baker (Jeff and Beau Bridges) are a pair of run-of-the-mill, piano players who decide to take on a singer in the hope of invigorating their moribund lounge act. 37 girls who can’t carry a tune later, former AAA escort Susie Diamond (Michelle Pfeiffer) falls into their lives, shaking up their routine, and permanently changing the brothers relationship in the process. Sensational Susie DiamondThe Fabulous Baker Boys has a remarkable, yet sparing narrative. Steve Kloves’ screenplay doesn’t tell us much more about these characters than we’d learn if we soaked up the beer in the bar at one of their bookings. The Brothers Bridges, not surprisingly have great chemistry, and you can’t help but wonder how much of their off-screen relationship is brought to their roles.Frank Jack and SusieBeau makes for a likeable, responsible older brother and Jeff is cool, as always, as he imbues his character with the unique brand of minimalism he’s been refining for years. The frisson of sexual attraction between Jeff and Michelle is perfectly played out with meaningful looks and minimal dialogue. Pfeiffer merely hinting at the pain hidden beneath Susie’s facade.Susie Centre StageBatman Returns aside, The Fabulous Baker Boys remains Michelle’s most iconic performance, and although she may not be a polished singer, her voice is elegant and powerful enough to draw the viewer in, just as surely as Susie draws the audiences into the Seattle lounges. Once you’re there, Dave Grusin’s music and the high gloss lighting of Michael Ballhaus cast a wonderful spell.Susie Diamond (Michelle Pfeiffer)It may not feature a Santa Monica beach or a Times Square New Year’s Eve, but The Fabulous Baker Boys endures as a classic, primarily because it chooses realistic characters over caricatures. Watching this film, you feel as though you’re on a journey with these characters, and long after the credits roll you’ll be left thinking about Frank, Jack and Susie, wondering where their paths might lead them in the future.


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