We all have at least one movie that we can watch over and over and never get tired of. We memorize every line, watch all of the writer/director’s other movies, get excited when we see one of the actors or actresses in another movie, and read IMDB multiple times so we can find out all there is to possibly know about the most mundane aspects of the filmmaking process. I have two of these movies. I have only been living in New York for about eight months and I have already seen my first movie on the big screen twice, even though it was made in the late seventies. Unfortunately, I have never had the opportunity to have that movie be introduced by Woody Allen and be followed by a Q&A with Woody, Diane Keaton, and Mariel Hemingway.
My second movie, Kicking and Screaming, is not even made on VHS or DVD anymore. So when someone forwarded me that Kicking and Screaming was being played at Lincoln Center and would be followed by a Q&A with the director and a few cast members, I instantly wrote a check for 25 dollars and called a friend to buy me a ticket. I have a copy of the movie on VHS that I “forgot” to give back to my college roommate when I left to move to out east. Next to all my DVDs, records, and CDs in my living room, it’s the ripped VHS case with Parker Posey, Eric Stoltz, and Olivia D’Abo on the cover that is my prize possession. It looks like another corny early ’90s romantic comedy with B-List stars. But it’s not.
There’s not much to tell about the plot line of this film. It’s about four friends that just graduated college together. Josh Hamilton plays Grover, whose girlfriend, Olivia d’Abo, has just left for Prague unexpectedly. Hamilton and his three other friends, played by Chris Eigeman, Carlos Jacott, and Jason Wiles, dub themselves The Cougars and relentlessly talk about the importance of the non-important aspects of life while reliving the nostalgia of college life that they didn’t seem to enjoy in the first place. “I’m nostalgic for conversations I had yesterday” declares Max, “I’ve begun reminiscing events before they even occur. I’m reminiscing this right now. I can’t go to the bar because I’ve already looked back on it in my memory…and I didn’t have a good time.”
The film is hysterical and smart and the romantic flashbacks between Hamilton and d’Abo give the film a very sad undertone that seems to bleed well into the laugh out loud awkwardness of The Hawk’s lack of romantic and moral sensibilities.
It was amazing to see a film I’ve only watched on television be projected onto the huge screen of the Walter Reade Theatre in Lincoln Center. Eric Stoltz, Josh Hamilton, Chris Eigeman, and Noah Baumbach stuck around after the film for about 30 minutes to answer the fan’s questions. The questions ranged from the process of getting the movie’s music to why Noah Baumbach didn’t show up for a hummus party in 1997. The best part of the evening for me was when Chris Eigemen told a story about a woman coming up to him in a restaurant and leaving a piece of paper on his table that said “Broken Glass” and walked away. I guess you’ll have to watch it when it finally comes out on DVD to realize the significance of that exchange. And when is that you ask? Baumbach kept saying, “Soon. Hopefully very soon.”
Kicking and Screaming was Noah Baumbach’s first film. It was made in 1995. Since this film, Baumbach wrote and directed Mr. Jealousy, co-write The Life Aquatic, and just recently directed the critically acclaimed The Squid and The Whale. He is working with Wes Anderson again on adapting Roald Dahl’s The Fantastic Mr. Fox for the big screen.