Wednesday, August 24, 2011


Modern Romance (1981) / Albert Brooks

The crucial distinction between Robert Cole of Modern Romance and Jake La Motta of Raging Bull, both jealous, perpetually paranoid men who are mistrustful of their respective women, is anthropological. Cole is an early 80s, latter-day Californian who works in a modern profession – film; La Motta is a early 40s, early-day New Yorker from Bronx who performs in a primitive profession – professional fighting. Of course, probed deeper, both filmmaking and boxing are essentially the same: thoroughly passionate systems of expression where the participants use automatic instinct that is informed by years of rigor (both physical and cerebral). Cole attempts to dilute jealousy-pangs by biting into a culture that claims be able to heal his heart by replacing love with a pair of sneakers; La Motta does it by pummeling other men. Cole is, however, a man of rationale, a film editor, one whose job is to locate reason in chaos – he can, at every step, justify his immense insecurity by announcing it as a feature of modern romance, thereby smudging an entire era with the misgivings of his psyche; La Motta, on the other hand, suffers from the simple-minded entitlement of a mid-20th century animal, he believes his wife is a territory no one trespasses. Ofcourse, they are similar men, and what would be hilarious is to replace one with another : Cole in the boxing ring, employing the sane forces of logic and rationale and  La Motta in the editing suite, smackin’ the foley-guys who mock his utter lack of talent. By the way of trivia, the director of Raging Bull directed the director of Modern Romance  in another film where Brooks plays the insecure, jealous aspiring lover: but there, he is always in the background, stealing furtive glances in the way of the girl as a crazy taxi-man in a red blazer takes her away from right under his nose.

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