Monday, June 07, 2010

MINNIE AND MOSKOWITZ (1971) -
John Cassavetes


Have you ever seen a guy brow-beat a girl into going out on a date? How about a guy handlebar mustache-whip a girl into getting married?

That's pretty much what Seymour Cassel does to Gena Rowlands in Minnie and Moskowitz -- talk her ear off from beneath his big lip-caterpillar until the point where she basically just gives in. Not that Cassavetes gives long-suffering, single Minnie many better guy options. If parking attendant Seymour Moskowitz isn't buying her cheap Pink's hot dogs and telling her he loves her so much that "sometimes I forgot to pee when I'm around you," then it's married man Cassavetes who smacks her around, tells her he loves her while refusing to leave his wife. I haven't even mentioned her blind date with raving lunatic tycoon Zelmo Swift (a brilliantly over-the-top Val Avery).

This has to be loudest, most aggressive romantic comedy I've ever seen. The polite Jennifer Aniston / Julia Roberts rom-com it certainly is not. Here, the choice of men are not mild-mannered, blank slate successful dudes named Dylan or Dermot who are waiting around to make the lead female's young urban professional life complete. They're borderline sociopaths with verbal diarrhea, zero social graces, questionable facial hair. That's what makes M & M funny but also a little depressing in true '70s cinema fashion. You know Minnie and Moskowitz are not right for each other but also know that they probably won't do any better.

I was reminded a bit of Punch Drunk Love while watching this, another case of crazy, misguided love winning out. But  Adam Sandler's Barry in PDL with his air miles pudding obsession, phone sex blackmail and violent men's bathroom outbursts aimed at paper towel dispensers might be a better catch than Seymour Moskowitz. At least Barry has the miles to fly you to Hawaii for the honeymoon. Seymour will just buy you a foot-long at Pink's.

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