[box cover]

Diner

Long before Jerry Seinfeld had a hit television show about people who hang out in restaurants and talk (and talk, and talk), Barry Levinson came up with Diner, a film that MGM didn't know what do with back in 1982, but which has since become a perennial favorite and a bonafide classic in the "coming of age" film genre (where it's joined by such other notables as American Graffiti and The Last Picture Show). Casting a group of then unknowns who have since gone on to have substantial film and television careers (Kevin Bacon, Mickey Rourke, Daniel Stern, Paul Reiser, Tim Daly, Steve Guttenberg, and Ellen Barkin), Levinson's story — which takes place over a few days in December 1959 — doesn't even try to offer a consistent narrative thread, but instead simply follows the characters through the lamp-lit streets of Baltimore, from households to strip clubs to the hilltop diner where the gang has aimless, long-winded, conversations. Various conflicts are introduced, almost in an offhand manner (Rourke gambles too much; Bacon is a drunk; Stern's marriage to Barkin is on unsure ground), but Levinson is content to let these various stories interweave with each other, and the ensemble's skill at fleshing out their characters allows us to accept that — as in real life — some of these issues will remain unresolved by the time the film is over. Fans of Diner will appreciate Warner's DVD edition, which features a solid transfer (1.85:1) from great source print, and audio in the original mono (DD 1.0). Supplements include the 30-minute retrospective "Diner: On The Flip Side," with insights from Levinson and all of the film's principals (except Rourke, inexplicably), an introduction by Levinson, a look at Levinson's four "Baltimore Films," and trailers for Diner and Liberty Heights.
—JJB



Back to Quick Reviews Index: [A-F] [G-L] [M-R] [S-Z]

Back to Main Page