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Linda-Marie Singer is the Movie Maven

Show Biz Maven

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Linda-Marie Singer - Click to Enlarge


Give Me Love or Give Me De’Ath

Click to Enlarge Reviewed by The Show Biz Maven

When we first meet author Giles De’Ath (John Hurt), we’re not certain (as his last name implies) whether the Englishman is dead or alive. Like an odd literary version of the famed Rockettes, he is a model in synchronicity, never altering any pattern or ever coming in touch with his soul. Of course some harpies would argue (but never your SnobzMaven) that being a writer lends itself to oddball behavior anyway, while some would debate whether a man like Giles who can’t identify a VCR is even fit for human life.

Since his wife’s death, the person he sees the most is his faithful housekeeper Mrs. Barker (Sheila Hancock), who fusses over him and tries to get him talking. As she brings the afternoon tea, his demeanor is so dour that we wonder whether the cup is going to swallow him dry. Only the consummate actor John Hurt with his woeful expressive face could make us believe that a dipstick has more personality.

LOVE AND DEATH ON LONG ISLAND, a novel by Gilbert Adair and adapted by writer-director Richard Kwietniowski, is one of those quirky but whimsical tales that catches your heart spinning. Much of the allure is watching Hurt as the colorless writer sleepwalk through life until he is struck by a bolt of love. And no, it didn’t happen with an electric shock treatment rendered by his housekeeper, or by an extra terrestrial who turned him into a Sylvester Stallone body double. Instead, Adair’s premise consists simply of a man going to a movie -- his first in twenty years -- and unexpectedly falling wildly, hopelessly in love with its screen star.

You may be surprised to hear that this very same scenario happened to the SnobzMaven a half-century ago when Marlon Brando hopped on a motorcycle in “The Wild Ones.” For days all the Maven could think about was leather and Hell’s Angels. So why shouldn’t this happen to Giles?

Nearing retirement age and sounding like a warped phonograph needle, Giles needs anything but a love bypass. To his amazement, his life registers a heartbeat when he mistakenly buys a movie ticket to “Hotpants 2.” Trying to decipher the addelpate dialogue, the scholarly writer is totally lost until he glimpses the picture’s teenage heartthrob Ronnie Bostock (Jason Priestley).

Forget the age difference, cultural barriers and intellectual disparity. There is something sweet about Giles’ mad crush that leads him impulsively to buy a television and VCR, and then sifts through endless reruns of Bostock’s film “classics.” His continuing infatuation even has him scouring teen magazines for any tidbits on his leading man, including that he resides on Long Island. Now a full-fledged Bostockmaniac, he must go to Long Island and meet him!

Aaron Spelling could probably write a sitcom around this odd man’s loony attempts to locate his American dreamboat. Let’s just say that after weeks of moseying around, he finally stumbles upon the actor’s dog (remember the fan mags?) that leads him to Ronnie’s girlfriend. Though she’s put off initially by his non-stop chatter, she slowly becomes captivated by Giles’ old world charm and respect for her boyfriend’s work, including the overblown story of his popularity overseas. There’s only one question left: Would he like to meet Ronnie? (Would he?)

When the two finally say hello, Giles clutches his beloved’s hand and doesn’t want to let go. Priestley, whose depth is seldom seen on television, portrays Ronnie as sympathetic and warm, innocent yet dim. Gullible and eager to move ahead in his career, he is mesmerized by the older, non-threatening stranger who has invented himself as a screenwriter.

But it’s the girlfriend who senses that Giles is smitten, and when she arranges to leave town with Ronnie, this forces a showdown. “How desperately I love you,” Giles finally admits. Ronnie gazes at him, quietly touches his shoulder, and walks away.

Will the two meet again? Whatever the outcome, Ronnie has a different perception of acting, while Giles, well, Giles has become a man with feeling and passion, having searched for and found Love and De’ath On Long Island.

With love and knishes from your Show Biz Maven.

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