NOTHING LASTS FOREVER (1984).
Writer-director Tom Schiller is best known for his short films from the early days of SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE (such as "Don't Look Back in Anger," in which an aged John Belushi visits the graves of his SNL castmates) and, together with producer Lorne Michaels, he concocted this imaginative fantasy-comedy about true love, bad art, magical bums, Carnegie Hall, and space travel. Sweet, absurd and crammed with moments of inspired brilliance, it was barely released and never found the cult-audience it so rightfully deserved... Set in some bizarre, retro, b&w time-period, a pre-GREMLINS Zach Galligan stars as Adam Beckett, a struggling artist who arrives in Manhattan, as the city is in the midst of a transit strike. With the Port Authority in complete control (the first of many NYC-based jokes that no one except residents will comprehend), Beckett is assigned to a night-shift job in the Holland Tunnel. While there, he has a brief fling with sultry co-worker Mara (June 1978 Playboy model Appolonia van Ravenstein), who hauls Adam to Polish mime troupes and admires his "boyish quality with a touch of madness behind the eyes." Adam's kindness to a homeless man (Tony Award winner Paul Rogers, from THE HOMECOMING and THE DRESSER) suddenly earns him a trip into a vast underground sanctum (in Technicolor!), where bums secretly guide the souls of Manhattan's residents. So are you confused yet? Just wait until Adam boards a senior-citizen-packed bus that flies off to the moon (which has a base established in the '50s, a breathable atmosphere, and loads of shopping bargains), with Bill Murray as snotty "sky host" Ted and Eddie Fisher performing "Oh! My Papa" in the upstairs lounge. It's there Adam hopes to find his true love, in the form of an Asian Moon Maiden named Eloy (Lauren Tom, recently seen as Tony Cox's greedy girlfriend in BAD SANTA). Aided by Fred Schuler's inventive cinematography and a score by three-time LORD OF THE RINGS Oscar-winner Howard Shore, Schiller crams his 82 minutes with old movie clips, pretentious art gags, and even a lunar hula musical number. Additional cameos include Dan Aykroyd as a grouchy Holland Tunnel supervisor, Mort Sahl as Adam's Uncle Mort, Imogene Coca and Calvert DeForest (a/k/a Larry "Bud" Melman) on the moon bus, Lawrence Tierney as a carriage driver, and Sam Jaffe (in his final film) as the leader of the bums. Most important, Schiller doesn't pander to his audience -- if you don't understand his surreal humor, screw you! This is a true original that's alternately charming, crazy and utterly unique.
© 2004 by Steven Puchalski.