Saturday, April 20, 2013

Film Review: SINGLES (1992, Cameron Crowe)

Stars: 3.8 of 5.
Running Time: 99 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew:  Starring Bridget Fonda (JACKIE BROWN, A SIMPLE PLAN), Campbell Scott (THE SPANISH PRISONER, LONGTIME COMPANION), Matt Dillon (THE OUTSIDERS, RUMBLE FISH), Kyra Sedgwick (BORN ON THE FOURTH OF JULY, PHENOMENON), Sheila Kelly (SOAPDISH, NURSE BETTY), Pearl Jam, and for the rest, see review.   A soundtrack featuring Pearl Jam, Mudhoney, Smashing Pumpkins, Mother Love Bone, Jane's Addiction, Pixies, R.E.M., Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, and others.
Tag-line:  "Love is a game.  Easy to start.  Hard to finish."
Best one-liner: "Come to where the flavor is.  Come to Debbie country."

This isn't going to be a full-blown review, per sé, but let me tell you something that I found surprising:  SINGLES holds up.  In terms of intelligent, 1990s, twenty-something comedy-dramas, it cannot touch my favorites (Baumbachs like KICKING AND SCREAMING, MR. JEALOUSY, and HIGHBALL, or Stillmans like METROPOLITAN, BARCELONA, and THE LAST DAYS OF DISCO), but it's got a fun, occasionally profound, indie-Seattle-grunge authenticity to it– in the music, in the fashion, and in the state of mind.  Cameron Crowe's positive energy is infectious, and even when the proceedings occasionally dip into sappier territory, you're still along for the ride (in his early work, at least).  Sort of a guilty pleasure, but I recommend it, if the mood strikes.

Anyway, this is all pretty much a lead up to a brief feature I call:  9 FACES I WAS NOT EXPECTING TO SEE IN SINGLES:

#1.  Paul Giamatti (AMERICAN SPLENDOR, COSMOPOLIS) as a creepy dude, making out in public with his girlfriend... and sucking on her hair.

#2.  Victor Garber (EXOTICA, TITANIC, ARGO), briefly glimpsed as a sensitive dad dreamboat-type.

#3.  Ally Walker (SONS OF ANARCHY, the moxie-filled reporter and JCVD love interest in UNIVERSAL SOLDIER!) as a bitchy, cardigan-wearing roommate.

#4.  Tom Skerritt (ALIEN, SPACECAMP, BIG BAD MAMA, CHEERS) as the semi-skeezy Mayor of Seattle.

#5.  Jeremy Piven (DR. JEKYLL AND MS. HYDE, THE PLAYER, SAY ANYTHING) as an obnoxious drug store clerk.

 #6.  Bill Pullman (THE SERPENT AND THE RAINBOW, MALICE) as a surprisingly pathos-filled breast augmentation surgeon.

 #7. 90s standby Eric Stoltz (MR. JEALOUSY, PULP FICTION, SAY ANYTHING, ANACONDA) as a talking mime, exactly the sort of quirky character actor bit that he can pull off, flawlessly, but would probably be annoying if someone else tried it.

 #8.  James LeGros (FATAL BEAUTY, POINT BREAK, SAFE, THE RAPTURE, GUNCRAZY) as a pretentious, ponytailed giver of advice.  Always good to see you, Mr. LeGros.

 #9.  And finally, Tim Burton, described as "the next Martin Scor-SEES" as an existentialism-obsessed director of dating service videos. 

 I cannot top that.  Amen.

–Sean Gill


J.D. Lafrance said...

Hah. Nice. yeah, amazing to see all those people pop up at various stages in the film.

And, of course, all the Seattle bands that make appearances. "We are loved in Belgium!"

Sean Gill said...

Heheh, good old "Citizen Dick." And between the Seattle bands and the general feel of it, there's a great deal of nostalgia here, too.

J.D. Lafrance said...

Agreed. I'd admire Crowe's ambition with this film and a desire to make a MANHATTAN for Seattle. I sure hope he revisits this on DVD as I've heard he has tons of deleted footage, esp. from band performances.