5 February 2005 | rsoonsa
Well Presented And Affecting Film.
Essentially a series of interjoining episodes such as may be found in a collection of short fiction wherein are portrayed common characters, this film has nary an uninteresting moment as it chronicles the attempts from a saxophone playing head of a jazz quintet, Jack Solow (Peter MacNicol) to locate steady employment for his musicians, not an easy task within a highly competitive entertainment environment. The veteran cinematographer and film school mentor Ralph Toporoff directs this work, reflecting in its close attention to detail his knowledge of the scenario's subject and, when scenes are basically melodrama, Toporoff along with members of his cast and crew successfully address them in a naturalistic fashion. Intriguing personal elements are introduced into the episodic script that stand very well on their own, aided by sensitive playing from the well-selected cast, smoothly implemented camera setups, and clever utilization of sparse resources, as evidenced in footage concerning a wedding. The quintet members begin to lose confidence that a gig will be found along New York City's jazz nucleus, 52nd Street, their worries exacerbated by a discouraging and ongoing series of frustrating auditions and weekend non-jazz jobs, but Jack steadfastly believes that the five will be hired into a desirable night spot if they will remain persistent. A jazz-flavoured sound track is, in the main, work of pianist Larry Schanker who helms a talented collection of sidemen through his scoring, abetted by top-flight editing from Jack Haigis. The film is nicely cast, with no unpolished performance, acting laurels going to Trini Alvarado for an outstanding turn as girl friend of the group's drummer, Bobby (Tim Guinee); Zohra Lampert and Roma Maffia give intense readings in their lone scenes while Guinee in addition to Carl Capotorto as the quintet keyboard man are excellent as is Margaret Devine in a small role as a bemused waitress; Charlotte d'Amboise, daughter of famous dancer Jacques, is winning with her performance as Jack's romantic interest. The film's setting is New York's Jersey suburbs during the early 1960s, with correct and evocative costuming, design, and autos served ably by creative camera-work from Joey Forsyte. Although theatrically released in many sections of the United States, and later shown twice on cable television, this work is unjustly neglected, in spite of its substantive cinematic worth, and lack of clinkers.