Rich Kid, Poor Kid

The O.C. Fills a Vacancy at the Hotel California; Sucking Up the '70s

A weird hodgepodge of references and registers, The O.C. comes bearing no clear message inside its pop-soundtracked walls. It skirts the issue of class while hinting halfheartedly at ideas like: Money can't buy you happiness, affluence breeds spiritual complacency, we're all the same under the social skin. Its very evasiveness and irresolution makes The O.C. oddly compelling. But if Ryan ever really spoke, his rage might burn down the world.

In drab cultural moments we ransack the past for inspiration, so the current boom in '70s movie nostalgia makes perfect sense. Earlier in the year, Trio aired a documentary version of Peter Biskin's history of '70s cinema, Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, along with a companion piece, The Blockbuster Imperative, which discussed how the big moneymaking pictures like Jaws and Star Wars killed off the independent spirit of the '70s. Now IFC is running A Decade Under the Influence, its own three-part original doc on the era, created by Richard LaGravenese and the late Ted Demme (a shorter version screened in movie theaters a few months ago).

A teenage Chauncey Gardner: the O.C.'s Ryan (Benjamin McKenzie)
photo: Shulamit
A teenage Chauncey Gardner: the O.C.'s Ryan (Benjamin McKenzie)


The O.C.
Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on Fox

A Decade Under the Influence
August 20, 21, and 22
8 p.m. on IFC

Holding Court
Manhattan Neighborhood Network Channel 57
August 25 at 9 p.m., August 31 at 7:30 p.m., and September 5 at 8 p.m.

A Decade Under the Influence has higher production values than Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, and almost all the major directors in question appear on camera here, from Scorsese and Coppola to Altman and Bogdanovich, so it feels authoritative. Some of the participants are more lucid than others—Robert Towne and Julie Christie are particularly revelatory, virtual warehouses for pithy, intelligent observations on the period. And the commentary is bolstered by hundreds of clips from the movies themselves (McCabe and Mrs. Miller, Chinatown, The Graduate, Shampoo, Taxi Driver, etc.), most of which do indeed deserve veneration.

The main problem with Decade is that it's a nonstop nostalgia bath, and the persistent self-aggrandizement on the part of these aging auteurs can be irritating. The doc's expanded structure accentuates this, allowing multiple talking heads to expound on the same general idea until it's deader than Gigli, without actually piecing together much in the way of complex critiques. Even so, Decade is a fabulous way to remind yourself of the masses of great '70s films, stumble over some lesser-known shoulda-been classics of the era, and ponder a frontier foreclosed.

Combine the U.S. Open with Wigstock and what do you get? Holding Court, a yearly cable-access extravaganza devoted to tennis divadom. Hosted by aging, hairy-chested doubles champions IrinaTrina Zalutskaya-Koukinova and Françoise de Quincampoix (affectionately played by Sam Zalutsky and David Thorpe), the show plunges headlong into madcap silliness and never returns. The duo dishes gossip with genuine NBC commentator Bud Collins (who can't stop talking about his pants) and gets very cozy with tennis reporter Jon Wertheim. Some of the skits feel like something you'd see on—well, cable access. There's the makeover scene in which a demented IrinaTrina tries to transform herself into the more elegant Françoise, à la Single White Female, and the painful musical fantasia set in a sports agent's office. But the segment in which modern dancer Miguel Gutierrez literally whips the girls into shape, maniacally reducing them to a mass of quivering hamstrings on a public tennis court, is pure genius. The episode will be publicly screened at a free party on August 21 at 8 p.m. at the Remote Lounge (326 Bowery, between 2nd and 3rd streets) before being broadcast on Manhattan Neighborhood Network Channel 57 on Monday, August 25; Sunday, August 31; and Friday, September 5.

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