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Saturday, January 07, 2006

Accomplished "Second Best"

Just watched an extremely clever funny morbid DVD, I suppose starring Joe Pantoliano but the whole cast of Second Best is so good and pitch perfect that I forgot it was a movie and took them for the characters they portray.

Not quite  sure what it's about, except that schadenfreude  comes into it somewhere.

The official synopsis seems to be about failed publishing executive Elliot Kelman (Joe Pantoliano) relying on hand-outs from his mother, son, and ex-wife (the delicious Paulina Porizkova, even more alluring than when she arrived on the scene all those years back and whole forests were massacred to keep pace with demand for her poster to adorn junior common rooms from Gordonstoun to Greyfriars, Haileybury to Hurstpierpoint).

Elliot self-publishes a dour and skilled weekly newsletter on the perils of self-delusion (that I would subscribe to in a flash) that he hires a high school kid to shove up on supermarket bulletin boards and under windshields in his New Jersey hometown.

Elliot - classic loser's name: screenwriter/director Eric Weber gets even the finest detail right - meets sexy Carole (sexy Jennifer Tilly with *that* voice) and his newsletter begins to find an audience. Things start looking up for Elliott - until the return home of his oldest friend Richard (Boyd Gaines, very good as a prominent movie producer, and the only one of his friends to have found success).

Natch, Elliot’s feelings of inadequacy and squandered potential zoom to the surface and there is a really painful scene in a posh restaurant as he reads out his latest pamphlet - in fact, all the readings are timed and delivered perfectly by Pantoliano, in whom I've not actually taken much interest, looking as he does like a mad scientist or some total loser.

Anyway, I intended to go out and see a movie or write to my mum or cook a decent dinner or learn a bit more of a Dowland lute piece or ... a heap of things, all of which fell by the wayside because of this drat clever film.

I couldn't spot a single duff line or moment.

Of course, I'm not going to go round recommending it to anyone: a) No one I know is remotely a loser or interested in watching a movie about one - even this funny, and b) I don't want to face a grilling from my A-type aggressively competitive acquaintances who'll demand to know what I was doing even glancing at something with a depressing title like "Second Best." They themselves would avert their eyes and hurry on lest even lingering in the area attract bad joss and negative vibes.

  • Clever clever THINKFilm
  • Clever composers John Leccese, Tom O'Brien, Craig Cobb, Joe Weber, and Nathan Wilson (tho' I'm not sure why they needed *quite* so many musical cooks)
  • Clever Lina Todd for first-rate casting.

    Wasn't it Woody Allen who described sex as the most fun you can have without laughing? In a way, Second Best is the wittiest movie I've seen without actually smiling all that much. Laughed out loud a couple of times, mind you, which I rarely do on my own. And nor did my eyes well with tears, which *always* happens on my own for the best movies.


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