ONE FROM THE HEART (Francis Ford Coppola, 1982)
BAMcinématek, BAM Rose Cinemas
30 Lafayette Ave. between Ashland Pl. & St. Felix St.
Saturday, September 2, 7:20, and Sunday, September 3, 4:30
Series runs September 1-4
New York, New York meets La La Land in Francis Ford Coppola’s romantic musical fantasia, One from the Heart. The film, which famously bankrupted the director and his Zoetrope Studios when it was released in 1982, is screening September 2 and 3 in the four-day BAMcinématek series “4 by Garr,” a quartet of movies starring one of the best actresses of the 1970s and 1980s, Teri Garr. Garr, who will turn seventy in December, got her start as a backup dancer in a bunch of Elvis Presley movies, then went on to make such popular pictures as Mr. Mom with Michael Keaton, Oh, God! with George Burns and John Denver, Close Encounters of the Third Kind with Richard Dreyfuss, and The Black Stallion with Mickey Rooney. But her career was cut short when she became ill in 1999 and was later diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. She has made very few public appearances in the last ten years, since suffering a brain aneurysm, but she continues to fight the disease. This series reminds us all what a terrific actress Garr was, her quirkiness and infectious charm ever-present onscreen. In One from the Heart, she plays Frannie, who works at the Paradise Travel agency with her best friend, Maggie (Lainie Kazan). Frannie lives with Hank (Frederic Forrest), a would-be musician who owns a surreal junkyard, called Reality Wrecking, with his best friend, Moe (Harry Dean Stanton). With their dreams drifting further and further out of reach, Frannie and Hank spend the Fourth of July separately; Frannie is intrigued by local piano player Ray (Raúl Juliá), while Hank has the hots for circus girl Leila (Nastassja Kinski). Fireworks are on the way, just not necessarily what was expected. Written by Coppola and Armyan Bernstein, the film is lushly photographed by Vittorio Storaro, who previously worked extensively with Bernardo Bertolucci and won an Oscar for his cinematography on Apocalypse Now. Storaro drenches the screen in oversaturated blues, reds, greens, and pinks, creating a dreamlike neon atmosphere in which scenes sometimes converge in unusual ways.
Tom Waits’s lounge-music score features duets with Crystal Gayle that both enhance the mood and propel the plot, which could use a little help. Coppola re-created the Vegas strip at Zoetrope, with no location shooting; production designer Dean Tavoularis and art director Angelo P. Graham transformed Sin City into a dazzlingly fake place, as if existing only in the main characters’ minds. The film cost $26 million to make and took in less than $1 million at the box office, a disaster that puts it firmly in the pantheon with Cleopatra and Heaven’s Gate. But seen thirty-five years later, One from the Heart is not quite the failure it is usually believed to be. The sets are spectacularly over the top, Storaro’s use of color — on Forrest’s face alone — is otherworldly, and Waits’s songs can serve as a good distraction at just the right times. There are still a whole lot of cringeworthy moments that make no sense — let’s not get started on the airport mess — but, as with Heaven’s Gate, it’s not nearly as bad as legend would have it. And some of it is downright delightful. Garr owns her role from start to finish, whether putting up a window display or being carried naked through the streets. Keep a look-out for cameos by Waits and Rebecca de Mornay, along with Coppola’s parents in an elevator. The BAM series runs September 1-4 and also includes Mel Brooks’s classic Young Frankenstein, in which Garr plays the sexy Inga; Martin Scorsese’s cult fave After Hours, with Garr as a retro waitress; and Sydney Pollack’s Tootsie, in which Garr earned an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress as actress Sandy Lester, who competes for the same role as her friend and teacher, Michael Dorsey (Dustin Hoffman).