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Comedy Movies - Goldstein

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Lou Gilbert, Ellen Madison, Benito Carruthers
Written and Directed by Philip Kaufman and Benjamin Manaster
Facets Multi Media 2006
79 minutes

The first thing to do is to watch the extra feature interview with writer and director Philip Kaufman. This way, you might be able to figure out what Goldstein is about. It seems it is based on a Hassidic tale about an old man who rises from the sea and foretells the end of the world or something.

Goldstein, the debut and independent comedy movie by Philip Kaufman (of The Right Stuff, Quills, and The Unbearable Lightness Of Being fame) shared the 1964 New Critics prize at the Cannes Film Festival. It is no surprise also that this comedy (of sorts) was praised by French artist Jean Renoir as the best American film he had seen in twenty years (although it is hard to know how many American movies he had seen to date). Goldstein is extremely French and indie movie in its music, camera angles, mood, many cuts and short scenes, artsy shots, and silences.

Although subtitles would have been nice as the sound guy on Goldstein was not the best in the business -this is especially obvious in an early scene in a bar where the music overwhelms everything else-- and a lot of the scenes and so dialogues seem improvised, this independent film is a quirky little movie that cinema fans will probably enjoy. Not much is telegraphed, foreshadowed, or explained in Goldstein so you really have to pay attention if you ever want to figure it out. Basically, a woman breaks up with a guy who is an artist, learns she is pregnant, goes to her job in a bar or cafe where she has a drink and a smoke (ah the sixties!), and gets hit on by two guys. The artist boyfriend works on a sculpture, you get a bunch of weird cuts, and an old guy appears out of the water.

The old guy, Goldstein, befriends a musician in a wheelchair, goes to his home, takes a bath, and when he comes out learns the musician has dumped his wife. The wife puts the moves on him. The pregnant lady goes back to the bar where she leaves with one of the guys. Goldstein goes to a diner and this leads to a chase scene in a sausage factory. Here, Goldstein gets very, very weird and definitely cartoonish in a scene involving the artist.

The artist spends the rest of the movie looking for Goldstein and, it seems, becomes Goldstein. This movie is of interest to film historians.

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