Reviews - Specialty Releases


Film Review: Lunch

Ingratiating, if too short, record of a Hollywood institution anyone would be happy to attend.

Oct 25, 2012

-By David Noh


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1365938-Lunch_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

Oh, to be a guest, or even a fly on the wall! Since 1989, every Wednesday, a group of Hollywood show-biz veterans have gathered for lunch to gobble deli sandwiches and saltily share jokes and reminiscences. Their number includes comic legends like Sid Caesar and Carl Reiner, as well as lesser, but just as enduring, lights like Gary Owens, the imperishable “Voice” from “Laugh-In’ and countless cartoons, and game-show host Monty Hall. Behind-the-scenes guys like director Arthur Hiller, who recalls how often he was confused with Arthur Miller, “M*A*S*H” producer John Rappaport, and writers Arthur Marx (son of Groucho) and Academy Award veteran Hal Kanter are also in this juicy, if highly crusty, mix.

In Lunch, director Donna Kanter (Hal’s daughter) trains her camera on these weathered faces as they josh and jostle for attention. Their combined years in the business must amount to centuries and their credits range from blockbusters like Love Story to the cartoon series “Johnny Bravo.” At their ages, health is of course an issue, and Hall admits that the lunch’s opener usually consists of talk about bowel movements, urination and diabetes. Deafness is another issue, and it is surmised that if the guys were seated in various positions, due to their respective faulty ears, no one would ever hear anything.

Once all that’s out of the way, however, the stories and shtick wonderfully tumble forth, and it’s a rich cornucopia from which much of our country’s comic heritage is derived. Caesar in particular is revered by the group for his formidable early-TV achievements, but the man himself, now looking startlingly wizened and frail, once an admitted monster of ego, modestly states that it took everything he had to keep up with writers like Neil Simon, Woody Allen, Reiner and Mel Brooks who all toiled with him. There’s some inadvertent humor as well, as in an interview with Kanter in his office, backed by the bound scripts from his incredibly lengthy career. You peruse the titles of those films—Road to Bali, Pocketful of Miracles, Move Over Darling, Dear Brigitte, Blue Hawaii, et al.—and realize he sure ain’t Billy Wilder, and how mediocrity, not genius, endures in Tinseltown. (Okay, he created the groundbreaking TV show “Julia,” for what it’s worth.)

Amidst the copious laughs, there is some sadness, especially due to the now troubled state of the Motion Picture & Television Fund which offers aid to vets like these, as well as Alzheimer’s and such striking certain of the men’s longtime partners. But, as the imperishably wonderful and sage Reiner states, “We all know what’s coming, but there’s never been a death that couldn’t use a little humor.”


Film Review: Lunch

Ingratiating, if too short, record of a Hollywood institution anyone would be happy to attend.

Oct 25, 2012

-By David Noh


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1365938-Lunch_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

Oh, to be a guest, or even a fly on the wall! Since 1989, every Wednesday, a group of Hollywood show-biz veterans have gathered for lunch to gobble deli sandwiches and saltily share jokes and reminiscences. Their number includes comic legends like Sid Caesar and Carl Reiner, as well as lesser, but just as enduring, lights like Gary Owens, the imperishable “Voice” from “Laugh-In’ and countless cartoons, and game-show host Monty Hall. Behind-the-scenes guys like director Arthur Hiller, who recalls how often he was confused with Arthur Miller, “M*A*S*H” producer John Rappaport, and writers Arthur Marx (son of Groucho) and Academy Award veteran Hal Kanter are also in this juicy, if highly crusty, mix.

In Lunch, director Donna Kanter (Hal’s daughter) trains her camera on these weathered faces as they josh and jostle for attention. Their combined years in the business must amount to centuries and their credits range from blockbusters like Love Story to the cartoon series “Johnny Bravo.” At their ages, health is of course an issue, and Hall admits that the lunch’s opener usually consists of talk about bowel movements, urination and diabetes. Deafness is another issue, and it is surmised that if the guys were seated in various positions, due to their respective faulty ears, no one would ever hear anything.

Once all that’s out of the way, however, the stories and shtick wonderfully tumble forth, and it’s a rich cornucopia from which much of our country’s comic heritage is derived. Caesar in particular is revered by the group for his formidable early-TV achievements, but the man himself, now looking startlingly wizened and frail, once an admitted monster of ego, modestly states that it took everything he had to keep up with writers like Neil Simon, Woody Allen, Reiner and Mel Brooks who all toiled with him. There’s some inadvertent humor as well, as in an interview with Kanter in his office, backed by the bound scripts from his incredibly lengthy career. You peruse the titles of those films—Road to Bali, Pocketful of Miracles, Move Over Darling, Dear Brigitte, Blue Hawaii, et al.—and realize he sure ain’t Billy Wilder, and how mediocrity, not genius, endures in Tinseltown. (Okay, he created the groundbreaking TV show “Julia,” for what it’s worth.)

Amidst the copious laughs, there is some sadness, especially due to the now troubled state of the Motion Picture & Television Fund which offers aid to vets like these, as well as Alzheimer’s and such striking certain of the men’s longtime partners. But, as the imperishably wonderful and sage Reiner states, “We all know what’s coming, but there’s never been a death that couldn’t use a little humor.”
Post a Comment
Asterisk (*) is a required field.
* Author: 
Rate This Article: (1=Bad, 5=Perfect)

*Comment:
 

More Specialty Releases

Small Time
Film Review: Small Time

You might not buy a used car from the guys in Small Time, but you will enjoy the movie about their exploits, even their exploitations (of others). More »

Fading Gigolo
Film Review: Fading Gigolo

Some top screen talent gets lost in the silliness surrounding the amorous adventures of an unlikely gigolo and his even more unlikely pimp, with writer/director/actor John Turturro the shtupper “ho” co-starring with Woody Allen as the mercenary shtup-enabler. Yarmulkes off to Turturro’s brave but deeply ill-conceived comedic foray into Brooklyn’s Satmar Hasidic community and other alien territory. More »

A Promise
Film Review: A Promise

Handsomely filmed but wan period romance. More »

Final Member
Film Review: The Final Member

Breezy documentary about the aging owner of a small Icelandic museum dedicated to penises and his quest for one last, coveted exhibit is a charmer, thanks to the warmth and sly sense of humor the protagonist brings to his unusual hobby. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

Transcendence
Film Review: Transcendence

Johnny Depp is an idealistic researcher whose consciousness is uploaded into an artificial intelligence in this slick techno-thriller with delusions of seriousness from Christopher Nolan’s cinematographer. More »

Draft Day
Film Review: Draft Day

Pro football manager faces crises on the most important day of his career in a well-tooled vehicle for Kevin Costner. More »

Player for the Film Journal International website.


ADVERTISEMENT



INDUSTRY GUIDES

» Blue Sheets
FJI's guide to upcoming movie releases, including films in production and development. Check back weekly for the latest additions.

» Distribution Guide
» Equipment Guide
» Exhibition Guide

ORDER A PRINT SUBSCRIPTION

Film Journal International

Subscribe to the monthly print edition of Film Journal International and get the full visual impact of this valuable resource for the cinema business.

» Click Here

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

Learn how to promote your company at the Film Expo Group events: ShowEast, CineEurope, and CineAsia.

» Click Here