Tuesday, August 16, 2016
'Tell me that you love me, Junie Moon' BD: That Liza/Preminger '70s Movie
This 2 of 4 reviews of Olive Films August 16, 2106 DVD/Blur-ray releases further illustrates the awesome diversity of this quartet. Yesterday saw the hilarious 2004 Mandy Moore/Macaulay Culkin gay-friendly Christian high school comedy "Saved!" The Stanley Kramer historic drama "The Pride and the Passion" and the groovy psychedelic 1968 film "Wild in the Streets" will round out this series on Wednesday and Thursday respectively.
The pedigree of "Moon" extends well beyond the spot-on performance by pop culture icon Liza "The Other Lucille" Minnelli. Otto Preminger of so many classic films, such as "Anatomy of a Murder" and "Laura," directs; screenwriter Marjorie Kellogg bases the script on her novel of the same name.
Minnelli plays the titular scrappy 23 year-old physically and emotionally scarred victim of a brutal attack that includes having battery acid dripped on her face. The scenes that depict the night in question are among the most compelling in the film.
We meet Junie just as she is finishing an extended stay at a Salem, Massachusetts hospital where she is being treated for the aforementioned physical and psyche harm. Her post-release plans include sharing a home with fellow patients Warren and Arthur.
Warren., regarding whom "the guy who was in that thing" character actor Robert Moore does an excellent job, is a flamboyant wheelchair-bound man who triggers gaydar well into the red zone but does not admit that he likes men in that way. He is not even open after practically drooling over a muscular black man whom he meets during a seaside vacation near the end of the film and who seemingly causes mutual delight by carrying Warren around slung over his shoulder firefighter style. A great deal of the fun regarding Warren relates to references to closets and queens as to him.
The most notable aspect of Warren is the John Irving style take on "Three Men and a Baby" that characterizes his back story. We learn of the wonderfully quirky nature of his conception while his mother is vacationing (presumably in Provincetown, Massachusetts) and the subsequent circumstances that lead to his unconventional upbringing.
Epileptic Arthur, whom future "White Shadow" Ken Howard awesomely plays in a manner that reflects his live-theater background, arguably brings the most baggage into the run-down bungalow that he and his roommates call home. His own issues are behind a long history of being institutionalized, and we see that he does not handle setbacks well.
These character studies, the early '70s themes of communal living and people with issues providing mutual support,the free-spirited wealthy woman who is the landlady of the group, and the commentary on institutions of the era are only some elements of "Moon" that make it a perfect example of the films of its period. Having folk singer Pete Seeger sing "Old Devil Time" while strolling through a forest is only the tip of the iceberg regarding the '70s background aspects of the film.
The proverbial large level this time is that "Moon" is a largely realistic character study of our three leads. Their setbacks are less severe than one would think and are resolved in the true Hollywood style of the era. At the same time, none of our group overcomes his or her issues to a miraculous extent, and they do not perform any heroic acts that cause those who dun 'em wrong to repent and treat them like gods.
Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Moon" is strongly encouraged to either email me or to connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.