[Marxism] James Wolcott on "The Larry Crowne Affair"
lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Jul 4 06:15:52 MDT 2011
The Larry Crowne Affair
by James Wolcott
July 3, 2011, 8:57 PM
Am I mistaken, or is the new Tom Hanks movie Michael Gates Gill's memoir
made into a fruit smoothie?
I haven't seen mention of it in the reviews I've read, but a few years
ago Hanks optioned Gill's How Starbucks Saved My Life, a book that had
an affirmative sweetness and lack of pretension that was charming and
specific in its depiction of work-place dynamics, pecking order, and
What gave it its hook was that Gill wasn't just another man nearing
retirement age who found himself unemployed and had to learn how to
wield a mop and handle a cash register, but the son of Brendan Gill, the
longtime New Yorker theater critic and bon vivant who worked with
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis in the cause of architectural preservation.
That a son of a New Yorker legend (not always a legend for the right
reasons, but still) who had forged his own career as an ad executive
should end up at Starbucks was intrinsically intriguing, at least for us
New Yorker lore-addicts.
And the book itself dramatized without exploiting the self-pity pump the
shock of a sudden drop in social and economic status, in finding
yourself no longer calling the shots behind a desk but taking orders
from people decades than you and finding yourself starting
over--embarrassed, tentative, afraid of feeling incompetent and failing.
He went from being a hot shot to being at age of 60 "the old man" in a
low-pay service job, a situation that's become even more prevalent--and
movie-relevant--since the book was published in 2007 as legions of
middle-aged, middle-management white collar employees have gotten wiped
out in this Great Recession, many of them starting from the bottom and
not even finding opportunities there to make do.
The book also had a very specific New York geography, Gill's commute to
work from Bronxville to the Starbucks at Broadway and 93rd taking an
hour each day, allowing him to stand on the platform each day looking at
business men and knowing that he used to be one of them and that none of
them believe his fate could happen to them.
Well, all that's gone, judging from the reviews of Larry Crowne. The
setting has shifted from New York's asphalt and bustle to a sunny,
generic So Cal suburb with a community college, from taking the subway
to riding a motor scooter, and from Starbucks to Denny's (you almost
expect the cast of Men of a Certain Age to be occupying a booth), with
Tom Hanks bobbing like a buoy in his personal economic downturn with a
host of sitcom-my supporting characters and Julia Roberts doing her
impersonation of a prune danish before giving the camera both gums.
Seeing Bryan Cranston's name in the cast reminds me that Breaking Bad
returns on July 17th. Now there's a show that's got its sociology nailed.
More information about the Marxism