Starting Out in the Evening

I love Brian Morton's novel Starting Out in the Evening and am ambivalent about the film. On the one hand, I really don't like it all that much; the adaptation never even hints at many of the nuances there on the page, and it takes a couple of liberties that seem in poor taste.

On the other, if it doesn't get an Oscar nomination for Frank Langella, then I am going to lose all faith in the judgement of Hollywood phonies, and that is going to be a sad day.

But it was a happy one when Brian Morton agreed to the interview that runs in my column today.

th-2248.jpg

(Photo of Frank Langella
playing Leonard Schiller
impersonating me in a few years)

December 12, 2007 9:45 AM | | Comments (4)

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4 Comments

It would be interesting to have a list of movies that have featured New York Intellectuals. Off the top of my list there is

1) Arguing the World

2) Reds

3) Zelig (and really the entire Woody Allen oeuvre).

4) Quiz Show (a passing reference to Lionel Trilling)

5) Metropolitan (another passing reference to Trilling).

Any more?

Great question. I've grown very fond of Reds, for all its faults, in the course of reading about the original generation of Village writers and artists. And the scenes of tne Bolsheviks in Petrograd are pretty great too.

There's a line in the film that loses whatever irony it had in the novel. A hip, edgy young editor makes a condescending remark about Schiller as being part of the New York Intellectuals, like Bellow and Schwartz, and so not interesting because they were "guys who went to bed early."

With all those amphetamines in his system, I doubt Delmore Schwartz got more than a catnap throughout the entire 1950s. And with Bellow, you'd have to say: "Early, and often."

The best line in the film "Reds" is when John Reed (Warren Beatty) yells at his editor--for the Metropolitan, if memory serves--"You don't rewrite what I write! You don't rewrite what I write!"

The times that line has come to mind are too numerous to mention.

The author interview as persuasive argument! I now want to read this novel of Morton's (I'll probably pass on the film), and something like that only happens once every 25 months or so, these days. It's a lost art, championing a cultural artifact without resorting to hype...

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This page contains a single entry by Quick Study published on December 12, 2007 9:45 AM.

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