Tuesday, June 22, 2010

MIKEY AND NICKY (1976) - Elaine May

Another Cassavetes offering not technically directed by Cassavetes, though you wouldn't know it immediately. Director Elaine May (The Heartbreak Kid, Ishtar) does a pretty good job approximating Cassavetes' improvisational style. I'd call this a mob comedy if only there were more humor in it and, well, more mafia.

Cassavetes plays a paranoid low-level embezzler with a hit out on him. Falk is his best friend, a Cosa Nostra bottom-feeder possibly tasked with delivering Cassavetes up for execution. The bulk of the film finds them going in and out of hotel rooms, bars, movie theaters and graveyards bickering and bantering, toying with each other through various psychological ruses and games of trust. If it all sounds a little meandering, well, you guessed it, but not always in a bad way. There are spots of humor, though dry, the most prominent involving hitman Ned Beatty trying to find a parking space to pull the hit for the entire run of the film. I was surprised to learn by way of IMDB that it took place in Philly, not in L.A. There are also a few nice cameos by M. Emmet Walsh and William Hickey and several surprisingly thankless roles for the ladies considering this was directed by a woman.

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