Friday, February 19, 2010

Modern Romance

Year 2, Day 50 - 2/19/10 - Movie #415

BEFORE: From Steve Martin to Albert Brooks, another of my favorite comedians. I suppose the title's kind of ironic now, seeing as this movie's almost 30 years old.

THE PLOT: Albert Brooks directs himself as a successful film editor with far too many issues that affects the relationship between him and his remarkably patient girlfriend.

AFTER: Again, I'm not really finding the humor in another person's messed-up relationship. And for 10 minutes of the film, Brooks' character is high on quaaludes, and we get to watch him stumble around his apartment and get ready for bed.

Since Robert Cole, the main character, is a film editor, there's a lot of outdated stuff showing the process of film editing - like people cutting actual pieces of film, and viewing them on those big flat-top Steenbecks. It's all done on computer these days, right? Nobody actually slices up film any more...

Robert has an on-again, off-again relationship with Mary (Kathryn Harrold), but his petty jealousies and constant neurotic behavior keep interfering with their happiness. Again, it's kind of slice-of-life funny, but not really laugh-out-loud funny like "Lost in America" or "The Scout".

Also starring Bruno Kirby, with cameos from Bob "Super Dave Osborne" Einstein (aka Albert Brooks' brother) as a sporting-goods salesman, director James L. Brooks (no relation) as a director, George Kennedy as George Kennedy, and Meadowlark Lemon (what is this, Love Boat?)

RATING: 3 out of 10 sound engineers


  1. Movies that inadvertently document a process or technology that was once ubiquitous but became absolutely obsolete later on will gain their own value. Just the other day I caught the start of "Crocodile Dundee" on cable and was delighted by some throwaway set dressing in scene in which the dame -- a columnist for a New York timely newspaper -- is on the horn with her editor. She's filing stories from Australia and is chasing down just one more before checking out of her hotel and heading home.

    She's holding a sheet of black and white photo negatives. On the desk behind her is a Brother EP-20 portable typewriter. It was technically electronic but was still a machine that put words on paper that then needed to be either faxed, couriered, or read aloud to the copy desk.

    Today? I don't even need to haul out the MacBook. I can, and have, filed stories to a Great Metropolitan Newspaper straight from my iPhone. Including photos and video. Even in Beijing, I was publishing articles seconds after writing them, and mere minutes after seeing something worth writing about.

    I'm sure that "Modern Romance" will one day become a famous piece of nostalgia porn. People won't believe how clunky, fiddly, and slow the process of film editing once was. Even a dope like me has done edits where footage from two different cameras is synchronized in split-screen, with independent titles, effects, and a voice-over timed to visual cues.

  2. I just myself gave a lecture to animation students, and I talked about the editing process used in the late 80's/early 90's. Before FinalCut, before most people had access to Avids, back when it was strictly print film, cut film, and tape together...
    No do-overs, no previews - if you made a mistake you had to splice it back together, or else re-print a whole roll of film.

    They looked at me like I had two heads.