Nothing Lasts Forever (1984)

Article 5173 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 6-1-2016
Directed by Tom Schiller
Featuring Zach Galligan, Apollonia van Ravenstein, Lauren Tom
Country: USA
What it is: Art film of sorts

An aspiring artist returns to New York in the hope of finding out what type of artist he should be, but when he fails the art test, he is consigned to supervising drivers entering the Holland tunnel. However, his kindness to a bum outside of Carnegie Hall has unexpected results…

Director Schiller’s writing and directing credits are mostly for “Saturday Night Live”, and the fact that the producer for this movie is Lorne Michaels and the credits include Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd would lead one to believe that it’s primarily a comedy. And, truth to tell, perhaps it is. However, that’s far from an apt description that is part art film, part cultural satire, part stylistic exercise, and part love story. It may be science fiction with the action taking place either in the future or in an alternate universe, but it would be better described as a surrealistic fantasy. The movie is shot in the style of an old-time Hollywood movie; it’s mostly in black-and-white, though color creeps in during two pivotal scenes. There’s quite a bit of stock footage and references to other classic movies; there are scenes from UN CHIEN ANDALOU, INTOLERANCE, and BATTLESHIP POTEMKIN, among others. The satire is mostly aimed at pretentious conceptual art (which is a tad ironic for an art film) and consumerism. The plot involves a secret society hidden under the city and bus rides to the moon. Does it work? I’m not sure it really does; there’s a lot going on here, but I can’t say it all really hangs together. There is a definite charm to the proceedings, though, and I did find the movie modestly enjoyable. The cast also features Sam Jaffe and Eddie Fisher, the latter playing himself.


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