Last night marked the first time in my life that I’ve watched the Donald Petrie movie Mystic Pizza.
OK, it’s not a masterpiece. But this charming slice-of-life comedy-drama, which concerns the romantic trials and tribulations of three young women as they shepherd slices and pies to customers in a Mystic, CT, pizzeria, has a lot to offer, including solid performances and slick direction. Though it’s a bit unfocused – there doesn’t seem to be a central character, and the film veers from one relationship to the other without honing in on any single one – the script offers some telling observations, particularly when it comes to prejudice in small-town America. (The three women are of Portuguese heritage, and the strongest personality, played by Julia Roberts, encounters bigotry from her rich boyfriend’s family.)
I liked this picture. I wouldn’t rush to see it again, but it was a pleasant diversion. And I’m going to refrain from calling it a chick flick; in my opinion, if a movie is good, it’s accessible to and enjoyable for everyone. So it is with Mystic Pizza: pretty solid filmmaking, and I’m glad I got to watch it. Frankly, there’s nothing mystic about that.
I like Errol Morris’ documentaries. He’s not my favorite director, but he picks interesting subjects and films them creatively.
Tabloid is no exception. A Morris-helmed documentary about the adventures of Joyce McKinney – a supposedly all-American gal who captured the loins of the British press in the 1970s by allegedly abducting and sexifying a Mormon boyfriend whilst in the United Kingdom – the film offers an intriguing, sometimes tongue-in-cheek look at a very smart, possibly disturbed woman and the bizarre life she once led. Interviewees include McKinney and a couple of British tabloiders who worked on the story back in the day, who provide a variety of opinions and perspectives. The movie does leave things relatively ambiguous as to who is the wronged party, and it’s a credit to Morris that it does so.
A few issues: Some of the edits aren’t seamless, leaving wide swaths of black screen before jumping to the next scene. And then there is the humorous commentary, consisting of certain words blown up to immense proportions on camera, as well as old footage meant to shed light on amusing or telling situations. I think the film would’ve worked better without these bells and whistles; it would’ve seemed more impartial, allowing us to draw our own conclusions.
Nevertheless, it’s an interesting documentary – another strange, beguiling piece of filmmaking by a very inventive director. He’s got quite a strong portfolio right now. I’d be curious to see what he adds to it.