Eternity and a Day


After nibbling on Woody Allen zwieback in its opening credits (trad jazz, alphabetized cast list, white-on-black titles), 30 Days thuds away at the now familiar New York turf of Jews and their mating habits, throwing in a little early Fellini mama’s-boyishness to complete the derivation. Struck in an anti-Friends mold, the film’s damp yuppies (two sample names are Tad and Brad) become galvanized by the impending marriage of the most well-off couple among them. The chief nebbish, Jordan (Ben Shenkman), who still works in his parents’ wine store, rubs his aching soul sore, feeling out his callow romantic condition through witless lines like “My idea of accomplishment is getting through The New Yorker in a month.” 30 Days feels an awful lot like that month.

Mushy and musty itself, A Piece of Eden also takes an eternity—this time to cheat and shortcut its way to lesser Frank Capra moments without the gritty touch of, say, a Garry Marshall. It starts with a schlubby New York publicist watching a clock in his office, an act that a viewer is likely to take up. Very soon, with his secretary, Happy, in questionable, sleazy tow, he’s gone to find himself by making up with an ailing dad during apple blossom time. A Piece of Eden unfolds in an alternate universe where glazed Hallmark nuggets—magical-realist Corsican grandfather revisitations, Happy smeared in homey honey, a folksy cherry-spitting contest that seems to take an hour—are served ad nauseam and eventually sew themselves into a suffocating quilt.