Sunday, December 29, 2013
THE THING CALLED LOVE did little business in regional release and I wasn’t able to see it until home video but for whatever reason the film that first comes to mind these days when I think of Phoenix, almost as if it was playing in theaters at the time, is Nancy Savoca’s DOGFIGHT. This particular film actually came out two years earlier in October ‘91 to not much of a response of any kind. I actually saw it in the theater—Yonkers Movieland in theater #3, one of the tiny, crappy ones. I’m not even sure I gave it much thought after a day or so but something about the film wound up burrowing deep down into my brain and thinking back now I suppose it means more to me than any other film River Phoenix appeared in. Even today the film still isn’t widely known although the likes of the excellent blogger Sheila O’Malley, who is probably more passionate about the film than anyone, have certainly proved that it is loved by at least a few. Maybe it’s somehow appropriate that the film still isn’t widely known considering how minor it seems at first, if not outright frivolous, but then sneaks up and knocks you out before you’ve even realized it. And, as others who have seen DOGFIGHT might know, it contains an ending which has stayed with me through the years like few others ever have. roundtable with Sheila O’Malley and Matt Zoller Seitz several years ago they had a lengthy discussion about this with Seitz basically saying that it’s a good film with a final ten minutes that turns it into a masterpiece. I’m tempted to use hyperbole and go further by saying that it’s the last ninety seconds or so that turns it into a masterpiece. Maybe that’s not quite true either but if you don’t have that last scene (even the music playing on a radio feels absolutely perfect, not to mention how much we’re seeing in the eyes of these two people) you don’t have a movie.