like sunday, like rain critical analysis

by plermpt

i can spoil this movie with just three words: no blowjob scene. (you’d think that after five years of rewrites, and a $1,000,000 budget, autocratic actor/director frank whaley would have spotted his script’s missing piece.)

synopsis: eleanor, a girl too pretty for her poor family, leaves home to pursue the lifestyle of a brooklyn musician’s girlfriend. when the couple break up she spitefully breaks her bf dennis’s guitar by tossing it out of the window of their shared apartment. in desperation he smashes a glass when he confronts her at work, and gets her fired as unintentional retribution. in minutes eleanor lucks from homeless and unemployed to live-in nanny for reggie, a wealthy, prodigious musical youth with stereotypical taste in classical everything. (just once i’d like a prodigious movie youth with unconventional taste in noise, hermann nitsch and motocross.) for the last two acts she spends a boring summer impressed by reggie’s staid conversations as they slowly fall in love, and in the end she chooses to move back to appalachia to work as a waitress while her father dies, and doesn’t give reggie any farewell head.

today’s indy movies are a commercial byproduct of the film industrial complex, and operate under executive guidelines that promote the status quo in attempts to earn very slow money. but like sunday, like rain was written like a get-rich-quick scheme: a famous enough cast and a straightforward premise with complete disregard for exploring its unintended taboo. for any serious investor this production was a trap, but for those with a vague interest in movies and a real interest in stultifying a filmmaker’s vision by exerting their dominance in a realm where they have no understanding, there isn’t even much imagination to stultify; the script wasn’t neutered because it never had balls.

as i watched the trailer my eyes welled up with pavlovian tears of embarrassment, just as they did in the days of open mic at the college co-op. my dearly personal memories of those locations (alder manor, snug harbor, the school with the dead turtles floating in the tank) were soiled by the tacky dialogue that poor leighton was much too pretty to say. i paused the trailer for a paper towel break, and couldn’t force myself to finish it.

inexcusable was frank’s ruthless behavior on set. nobody needed to rage quit, nobody needed to cry, nobody needed to miss homeschooling, nobody needed to lose sleep or become vertiginous with work related strain. some of the crew members were recent transplants from matthew barney’s infamous river of fundament, the six-hour diarrhea art musical. even given the clout of that director, the maxim of production always remains the same: a job is a job. doesn’t matter if the film is groundbreaking or anodyne, the crew always deserves respect. with human shit a daily hero’s prop on the set of river of fundament, i’ll wager the crew would still prefer to work for barney than take frank’s shit.

i am still extremely grateful to have experienced the thrill of working on a meaningless indy, as demonstrated by my thorough ramblings here, here and here. (week four’s notes are written in tongues.) i made some friends i never saw again, some friends i rarely see, some friends that i haven’t seen yet but know they are still out there somewhere, and some friends i hope never to see or hear from again. i got to goof off, drive a truck, talk shit, get yelled at and leave sets with trays of free chicken. the money i made as a driver PA was definitely not worth the effort i was forced to exert, (my paycheck after an 80 work week was $500 before taxes, and there were some interns that worked for free) but the memories still haunt me in the best ways:

on one occasion i was lucky enough to witness the real life bonding of co-stars: while locking up (locking up: production term for temporarily disallowing pedestrian traffic to preserve the authenticity of the shot) the foot path in riverside park a man on a bike became irate. “…and what exactly is the name of this film?” he demanded, his gruffness forcing me to shrink back into my shell. “ugh…like sunday….like rain….” i croaked, embarrassed, knowing that my answer was a set he was eager to spike. “well,” he said, puffing his chest arrogantly, “your film is raining on my fucking sunday!” shocked by his rudeness and defending the youth of her costar, leighton held nothing back. “hey! there are children present!” she screamed as the bike douche rolled past me, ruining the shot and forcing AD cecily to scream at me over walkie bc frank screamed at her on set.

production people need to chill, and not the type of imitation friendliness they use to greet complete strangers like lost childhood friends…they need to actually chill because at the end of the stress and the exhaustion and the abuse and the meager paycheck this movie is the outcome.