Mr. Saturday Night
Billy Crystal jokes that he spent about a month and a half in the makeup chair while, over 53 nights of filming, he was aged some 30-odd years for his role as a washed-up nightclub comic in Mr. Saturday Night. Crystal invented the crotchety character of Buddy Young Jr. in 1982 and later brought him to Saturday Night Live. ”I always felt that of everyone I’d ever done, there was something fascinating about a comedian,” he says. In this movie, Young looks back on a life sabotaged by his own difficult personality.
”He’s at the point where he really can’t perform anyplace, ‘cause they just don’t want him,” says Crystal. ”So he’s thinking about his career, which he kept screwing up. He’s an angry man who never, in comic terms, ‘knew his room.’ It’s what happens to performers who get frightened of succeeding. He couldn’t handle pressure.”
Crystal, directing his first feature (he also cowrote and produced), handled the pressure just fine: On the first day of shooting, he got to the set at 1:30 a.m., spent 51 2 hours getting made up, rehearsed the actors, filmed until sundown, got in a van, drove across town, set up a big street scene-still in full makeup-waited three hours for the traffic and the lighting to get right, and then shot that as well. ”Everyone goes home, you go back to makeup, they take it off, it’s now 12 midnight-the exact same time I got up to get to the set,” says Crystal. ”I did that 10 straight days in New York. The teamsters called me Iron Balls. And my family? I don’t remember who they are.” (Columbia)
Just in time for the last laps of the presidential race comes Tim Robbins’ darkly comic mockumentary about a media-savvy, guitar- strumming senatorial candidate with a firm handshake and a fascist soul. Though Bob Roberts brims with familiar faces-look for John Cusack, Susan Sarandon, and James Spader, among others-the star of the show is Robbins, who wrote and directed and who plays Roberts as a candidate whose menace lurks just beneath his steely smile. ”We filmed Bob Roberts as David Duke was gaining power,” says Robbins, ”but there are parts of Bob in the current candidates as well.” If you doubt it, don’t miss Roberts’ big speech about-you guessed it-values. (Paramount)
Writer-director Cameron Crowe’s ode to love on the Seattle club scene could do for twentysomethings what his script for 1982’s Fast Times at Ridgemont High did for teens. Both comedies were based on Crowe’s close observation and interrogation of the natives about their lives. Singles’ensemble cast (Bridget Fonda, Kyra Sedgwick, Campbell Scott, Jim True, Sheila Kelley) swirls around a still center: Matt Dillon as a rocker who fronts a struggling band played by members of Pearl Jam, Nirvana’s heir apparent as the Next Big Grunge Thing. Dillon’s character is modeled on-he even wears the clothes of-Pearl Jam’s bassist, Jeff Ament. But it’s not a film about music: ”It’s about how clubs are the worst possible place to look for love,” says Crowe. Watch for self-spoofing cameos by thirtysomething’s Peter Horton and Batman director Tim Burton. (Warner Bros.)