Nothing Lasts Forever (1984)
Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.
as Father Knickerbocker
as Aunt Anita
as Uncle Mort
as Swedish Architect
as Helen Flagella
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Technically brilliant; but the themes and the tempo only come together for the last section. Until then, there's student-film-type philosophizing that doesn't go deep enough to keep away student-type boredom. As a pastiche, the movie is more than technically brilliant; it brings filmmaking styles from the 40s and 50s back to life, on even footing with the modern stuff. The morale: Nothing lasts forever, but in a way, you can believe that anything Beautiful does. All in all, this one has a lot of charm.
"Nothing Lasts Forever" is a peculiar, boldly stylized fantasy with heavy ties to early "Saturday Night Live" (writer/director Tom Schiller, producer Lorne Michaels, composer Howard Shore, Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray). Contrived to look like a '40s B-movie, it's mostly shot in woozy black and white, minus two important sequences.
"Forever" is nearly a work of singular genius, except the conclusion fails to deliver on the promise of the first half. Zach Galligan ("Gremlins") is Adam Beckett, a young idealist who returns to New York from Europe with naive plans of being an artist. He has no demonstrated talent and hasn't even chosen a medium. But in this alternate New York, the Port Authority runs the city and is fiercely strict about which would-be artists are accepted into the population (apparently, Toulouse-Lautrec is also caught in the bureaucracy). The chief hurdle is an aptitude test, where Adam has to sketch a flirty nude within three minutes. The resulting product is one of the film's best laughs. His weak performance results in him being relegated to an Orwellian traffic-control post, with Aykroyd briefly portraying his grizzled supervisor. Eventually, Adam finds favor with a secret underground organization and earns an unlikely trip to the moon. Via bus. Romance and creative inspiration await him.
There a few old-fashioned, orchestrated songs that are quite well-written -- the title tune adds an amazing dubbed vocal -- and Eddie Fisher even turns up to sing "Oh, My Papa." Imogene Coca, Mort Sahl and Calvert "Larry 'Bud' Melman" DeForest are also in the cast.
I just saw a bootleg copy of this rarely seen film from Tom Schiller, a man behind some short films that aired on SNL years ago. I have to say I found this to be a wonderfully creative and entertaining film. It is a sci-fi/fantasy film, shot like it was made in the 1930s, about a young man longing to be an artist, and who ends up going to the moon on a bus full of old people going there to shop. It is whole-heartedly weird, but kind of wonderful too. I kind of loved it, and I wish it had gotten a proper release and Schiller had been given a shot to make other films.
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