Quicklinks
Top Links
biography by votes awardsNewsDesk
Filmographies
overviewby type by year by ratings by votes awards by genre by keyword
Biographical
biography other works publicity photo galleryNewsDesk
External Links
official sites miscellaneous photographs sound clips video clips

Connect with IMDb



2015 | 2004 | 2003 | 1997

2 items from 1997


Film review: 'Bad Manners'

16 October 1997 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

George Bernard Shaw once sagely remarked that the most rancorous, bilious and treacherous fighters are academics, because the stakes are so small. So it seems in "Bad Manners", a "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"-ish drama centering on two couples who grapple in the halls of ivory.

While a scathing satire of the modern-day professoriate, "Bad Manners" is lightweight piffle as human drama, thin on character depth and pounded into pablum by its overwrought, hysterical dialog. Playing at the Chicago International Film Festival, it's the kind of film that inspires post-viewing discussion: Namely, can one recall ever spending an evening with four more odious, obnoxious twits than the four lead characters depicted here?

The best venues for this tweedy tale are near serious college communities, where students and faculty might take perverse delight in viewing such a searing portrayal of petty pedantry. Unfortunately, writer David Gilman (who adapted the script from his long-running Chicago play "Ghost in the Machine") has fashioned a scenario so superficial and dependent on dramaturgic gimmickry that a "Cliffs Notes"-like encapsulation of the project might outweigh the real thing.

Aptly titled "Bad Manners" centers on the comfortable domicile of a couple of Cambridge, Mass., educators, Wes (David Strathairn) and Nancy (Bonnie Bedelia). In the Shakespearean sense, theirs is a "stale marriage bed," and their testy relationship is further unsettled by the fact that Wes has been passed over for tenure at the girls finishing school where he toils.

Indeed, he's duly defensive about his low spot on the academic pecking order in this multicollege environ. Wes' sensitive state is further challenged when, as bad luck would have it, an old flame of Nancy's, Matt Saul Rubinek) comes to town to deliver a lecture at Harvard, no less. And, even more dispiriting, Matt has arrived with Kim (Caroleen Feeney), a delectable disciple who fancies herself a sexual provocateur.

Introductions are made (snide putdowns); histories are revealed (embarrassingly sexual); accomplishments are enumerated (shot down fast); and goals are delineated (belittled).

While one could argue these characters are quite remarkably the blurt-out-everything types whose snipings are not refined by any social sophistication, that supposition rings false among these educated folk; it's the hysterically charged and often unbelievable dialog that pummels this slight story down to bonehead dimension. In short, Gilman's blunt scripting -- further juiced by the old-reliable character-inflamant, alcohol -- is so crudely calibrated that not only do we dislike the characters, we don't care what makes them tick.

Despite the C-screenplay, the acting is high-grade, a credit to director Jonathan Kaufer and the quality cast. Strathairn invests his character with a snide, sarcastic manner that nicely captures his quiet desperation. As Nancy, Wes' tenured wife, Bedelia displays an aptly edgy serenity. Rubinek is well-cast as a pompous musicologist who seeks fame and glory through the "discovery" of a Martin Luther refrain in a computer-generated, random-number musical opus. Feeney, as the femme fatale of the faculty, snipes and dishes with soap-operatic fury -- which is, unfortunately, right for this soapy production.

BAD MANNERS

Davis Entertainment Classics

In association with

Skyline Entertainment Partners and Wavecrest

A J. Todd Harris/Stephen Nemeth production

Producers J. Todd Harris,

Stephen Nemeth, Alan Kaplan

Director Jonathan Kaufer

Screenwriter David Gilman,

based on his play "Ghost in the Machine"

Director of photography Denis Maloney

Editor Robin Katz

Music Ira Newborn

Music supervisor Dondi Bastone

Production designer Sharon Lomosky

Costume designer Katharine Jane Bryant

Sound mixer Ben Patrick

Casting director Georgianne Walken

Color/stereo

Cast:

Wes David Strathairn

Nancy Bonnie Bedelia

Matt Saul Rubinek

Kim Caroleen Feeney

Dr. Harper Julie Harris

Running time -- 88 minutes

»

Permalink | Report a problem


Film review: 'Bad Manners'

17 September 1997 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

A mere 15 years after his feature debut with "Soup for One", Jonathan Kaufer weighs in with his second directorial effort, this awkward screen adaptation of a talky play.

In its depiction of two academic married couples angrily squaring off, "Bad Manners" would like to be a "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" for this decade, but its characters and ideas are irritating rather than provocative, and the net effect is less "Virginia Woolf" than crying wolf. The film recently received its world premiere at the Montreal World Film Festival.

Adapted by David Gilman from his play "Ghost in the Machine", which had a successful off-Broadway run a couple of years back, the film depicts the dayslong encounter between two couples.

Wes (David Strathairn) is a university professor of comparative religion at a nondescript girls' school, while wife Nancy (Bonnie Bedelia) is a musicologist. Nancy's old boyfriend Matt Saul Rubinek), accompanied by his precocious younger girlfriend Kim (Caroleen Feeney), shows up to stay with them while he is in town to deliver an important speech at Harvard. Kim, a computer whiz, is assisting him on his academic project, which involves the bizarre discovery of a centuries-old musical composition in a computer-generated piece of contemporary music.

Although they are outwardly cordial, simmering tensions lie just beneath the surface of the two couples' friendly bickering and bantering. Wes and Nancy's marriage is feeling the strain of his recently being denied tenure, and Wes is further stirred up by Kim's simmering sexuality and flirtatiousness. When $50 turns up missing from Wes' wallet, it results in a series of confrontations that escalate in tension and hostility. When Matt thinks he overhears Wes and Kim making love in the downstairs living room, all hell breaks loose.

Although Gilman's screenplay delivers four sharply observed characters who are brought to vivid life by a highly skilled cast, it never lifts above the picayune in its plot line, situations and dialogue.

Still, Strathairn is particularly effective at conveying his character's underlying hostility, and Feeney, a relative newcomer, invests Kim with a compelling mixture of sultriness and edginess.

BAD MANNERS

Davis Entertainment Classics

in association with

Skyline Entertainment Partners

& Wavecrest Pictures

Director Jonathan Kaufer

Screenplay David Gilman

Producers J. Todd Harris,

Stephen Nemeth, Alan Kaplan

Executive producer John Davis

Co-producers M. Cevin Cathell, Ed Cathell III

Director of photography Denis Maloney

Musical score Ira Newborn

Editor Robin Katz

Color/stereo

Cast:

Wes Westlund David Strathairn

Nancy Westlund Bonnie Bedelia

Matt Carroll Saul Rubinek

Kim Matthews Caroleen Feeney

Professor Harper Julie Harris

Running time -- 87 minutes

»

Permalink | Report a problem


2015 | 2004 | 2003 | 1997

2 items from 1997


IMDb.com, Inc. takes no responsibility for the content or accuracy of the above news articles, Tweets, or blog posts. This content is published for the entertainment of our users only. The news articles, Tweets, and blog posts do not represent IMDb's opinions nor can we guarantee that the reporting therein is completely factual. Please visit the source responsible for the item in question to report any concerns you may have regarding content or accuracy.

See our NewsDesk partners