Friday, May 28, 2010
An Everlasting Piece (2000) has the vague whiff of a film produced for tax reasons. It is hard to imagine that it aroused passion in anyone, other than its screenwriter-star, Barry McEvoy, who based it on incidents in his father's life. Director Barry Levinson continues to vie for "Most Erratic Track Record as a Director." Has anyone in our era made such fine films and such bombs side by side? Diner and Sphere? Avalon (a personal favorite) and Man of the Year (unwatchable)? Wag the Dog and Toys (one of the worst EVER)? Let me know if you can think of anyone else who works at such extremes. And some of his most celebrated work (Rain Man) isn't all that good, while lesser-known films (Young Sherlock Holmes) have their rewards.
One can see the attraction of the material for Levinson-- the protagonists are two man-boys (or is it boyos?) who stumble over a business opportunity which puts them in opposition to the prevailing authorities. As a Catholic and Protestant working together, they arouse suspicion both from the British military and the IRA, both of whom are potential antagonists and, as it turns out, potential customers.
But the two parts of the film--baldness and armed religious conflict--never gel into a cohesive unity, and come apart like a toupee whose sticky tape has worn out. And the inherent grimness of the setting edge the film into tastelessness, into which it falls on a fairly regular basis. Not to mention the Anglo-Irish propensity for scenes of redundant squabbling--don't we all have enough pointless arguments in our lives to not have to put up with them in real life? And there seems to be an assumption that, given much of the audience will be Irish, they will necessarily be drunk; therefore important plot points must be pronounced three times in a row very slowly. I'm not kidding. The idea that the two wig salesman will shave their heads to demonstrate the quality of their hair pieces is repeated THREE TIMES IN A ROW SLOWLY.
Or maybe it was just that the editor was drunk.