Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Why Haven't I Seen That?: DINER

Welcome to a new installment of WHY HAVEN'T I SEEN THAT?, where we talk about a must-see or iconic movie that we have never seen...until now. This week we take a look at a movie that seems to have once come and gone. Often forgotten in terms of films crafted and put onto display in the 80's, the famous Barry Levinson's minimalist hit...DINER!  Enjoy.

Diner is a film that revolves around a group of friends in the 50's just hanging around and discussing their lives and how far they have come, the glory days, and how no matter what they'll still be best buds. The main focus of the film usually centers around the group of friends hanging out at what is simply referred to as "the Diner." It also includes one of the friends getting married soon, and the others living out their characteristic traits and how they interact with one another. One friend being a tad regretful of his marriage, one who cannot seem to stop betting, one who returns to town for the wedding with luggage full of regret, and another who is the ladies man alcoholic. But anyways, enough of the backstory let's discuss this perfectly enjoyable piece of cinema!

Diner has no real plot. There isn't an overlying goal in the film, which always seems to be an enormous miss for a lot of viewers. And I won't lie, I have said out loud watching films before "what the hell is the point of this?" But there are certain films who manage to make us forget this question and just enjoy the ride. Like the films of Richard Linklater, and many biopics, these films typically don't embrace the limitations, but rather ignore them and just make what they want to make.  This exact idea is possibly what makes Richard Linklater so popular, especially with younger viewers. There is no real point to his movies, but he makes them simply because he wants to make them. And that idea would seemingly be pretentious but it isn't. The content is so light hearted, joyful, and immersive that we cannot help but enjoy it. With films like Diner and Dazed and Confused we just enjoy the ride that it is, but we cannot quite put our finger on why we do. But anyway, back to Diner. Levinson has quite the glorified career, directing films like Good Morning Vietnam and Rain Man he has several smash hits including Diner. But the lightheartedness is what makes Diner so enjoyable. The content, and dialogue between the characters holds no real emotional weight. The conversations just flow between them, discussing which musicians at the time are more talented, or betting who could do the most insane things with their date. The film brings a strong level of nostalgia to the table, forcing you to connect yourself and your group of friends to those in the film.

Speaking of group of friends, the cast is probably the highest point of the film next to the writing. Obviously the conversation and dialogue flows naturally and flawlessly. However, the film stars many incredibly young actors who grew to be absolute stars. Steve Guttenberg, Daniel Stern, Kevin Bacon, Mickey Rourke, Tim Daly, Ellen Barkin, and Paul Reiser. If this doesn't hook you, re-evaluate what you have been watching. All of these actors have had wonderful roles in their lifetime, making for memorable characters with quotable dialogue in the films they star in. So Diner is a perfect role for all of these actors. It's incredibly minimalist, forcing the actors to memorize lengthy talking scenes, and master the timing of jokes and insults. A perfect trifecta, which makes for a perfect piece of cinema. Perfect writing, wonderful acting, and immaculate timing. 

Diner is a wonderful precursor to the simple minimalist talking films to come within the past decade. Barry Levinson's direction flows seamlessly into the clear talent of the young cast. The writing feels incredibly real which forces you as an audience member to recount the moments that these characters go to and not help but force yourself and your own real life buddies into their shoes. Take a quick peak into this film, and you'll find yourself quite content with how life is going.

Joshua's Score: 10/10

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