Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I could write about any number of Thanksgiving-centered movies here, including the appropriately sad and political The Ice Storm or the warmly funny Hannah and Her Sisters, but instead I’ll propose a double-feature of two surprisingly linked New York-based Thanksgiving movies; Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig’s Mistress America and Woody Allen’s Broadway Danny Rose.
Both films share a few larger characteristics; they’re goddamn hilarious in very silly ways (with Rose inspired by the Borscht Belt and Mistress inspired by screwball), they’re very short (both reach no more than 85 minutes; this double-feature is barely longer than the running time of Blade Runner 2049), they feature two scenes with a psychic, and they end at Thanksgiving (including both a dinner and a look at the Macy’s parade). But more than that, they share a moving appreciation for the strivers at their center, even as they acknowledge their very limited potential for success. Mistress‘s Brooke Cardinas (Gerwig) throws herself at odd jobs in the hopes of getting to run a restaurant, and Rose‘s titular talent agent-to-the-hacks (Allen, of course) tries to hold onto his one mildly successful client. While their behavior is exaggeratedly comic (Brooke talks like a parody of a New York sophisticate, Danny like the typical Woody Allen protagonist with even more stammering and five-dollar words), their efforts are something much more poignantly real, their melancholy becoming more obvious as both films go on. And the same goes for their scene partners, lonely college freshman and Brooke’s soon-to-be stepsister Tracy (Lola Kirke) in Mistress and the brassy Italian mistress Tina (an unrecognizable Mia Farrow) in Rose. Together, they embark on wacky adventures involving gangsters, commercial mascots, and apple bongs (I hope it’s obvious the apple bongs aren’t in the Woody Allen movie), but what really sticks is the sadness of what follows, and the beauty of Thanksgiving providing these lost souls one last chance for reconciliation. So this year, have and enjoy a dinner with your friends, family, assorted acts, and nemesis, plus maybe some tangentially-connected college students and a random pregnant woman too.
Mistress America is available on Blu-Ray and DVD from Fox. Broadway Danny Rose is available to watch for free on Amazon Prime, and on Blu-Ray from Twilight Time in the U.S. and Arrow Academy in the U.K.