"Moment To Moment" (also known as "Two Tons of Turquoise to Taos") is an experimental, ludicrous, plotless, absurd, surreal comedy. Impossible to understand, which is seemingly intentional.... See full summary »
"Moment To Moment" (also known as "Two Tons of Turquoise to Taos") is an experimental, ludicrous, plotless, absurd, surreal comedy. Impossible to understand, which is seemingly intentional. It leaps from scene to scene, world to world, with reecuring names and actors being the only things that hold it together. Very much like sketch comedy, except without much of a point. The movie literally goes from "Moment To Moment", with no actual narrative in mind rather than to just film a bunch of miscellaneous scenes and ideas and cut them together. Make of it what you will. Written by
Robert Downey (Sr.) misstepped with MOMENT TO MOMENT, something of a love letter to his wife, who stars in 22, count 'em 22, different roles. Previous (and sympathetic) IMDb reviewer likened it to jazz improvisation on film, but it struck me instead as what discographers refer to as a series of "rejected takes". In the studio, they usually call it a day, scrap the session and start over at a later date, but Downey slapped his material together and called it a movie.
Completely infra dig, with endless philosophical doggerel as word gags and a cast that demands some hipster to identify the obscure but familiar faces. The only one I could pick out on my own was Seymour Cassel, who in two fleeting appearances is completely wasted. Example: old guy says to Seymour "I have a brain tumor"; long pause, then Seymour replies: "It's all in your head".
To be unkind, this mess of a film plays as a series of black out sketches, not of the quality of Monty Python, SCTV or Saturday Night Live but rather reminding me more of Laugh-in or Hee-Haw. When Steve Martin remarked that "comedy isn't pretty", he was surely referring to Downey's work.
I watched it without knowing who the auteur was, but early on the only film that came to mind was GREASER'S PALACE, a movie I greatly enjoyed when last seen over 35 years ago. Yes, it's the same Downey, but his shredded editing here is a bummer.
If each sketch, even the real clunkers, had been permitted to play itself out to the end I might have enjoyed the film. But instead Downey keeps cross-cutting, giving us just snippets of either stillborn or obviously headed nowhere playlets, all of which star Mrs. Downey. The effect is cumulatively like a bad trip -just when you thought we were through with a bad idea it comes back to haunt you later on.
An early scene has a character remarking "We live moment to moment", hence the title, while later on Elsie Downey as Olga keeps badgering a guy about a secret mission to deliver "two tons of turquoise to Taos tonight", the alternate title. Sometimes the homilies ALMOST work: e.g., "When a ritual becomes habitual, it's time to quit".
This sort of doggerel and endless jive talk is wearying -the kind of crap one finds in vanity productions that, to this day, really knock 'em dead at the friends & family screening event, but are never heard of again. They've been put on a pedestal as "independent cinema", but anyone who's ever interviewed a film lab owner (part of my old Variety job) knows they're a dime a dozen and mainly suitable for landfill.
Mrs. Downey, trying to look sexy in a bikini and at one point removing two sets of panties to (almost) give us a split-beaver shot, wore me out early on with her hammy antics and amateurish attempt at accents. I lived through the heyday of "Performance Art" in NYC, with the shows of Penny Arcade and so many others, and Elsie is merely embarrassing. To build an entire movie around her limited repertoire was vanity squared.
The reflexive scene of three filmmakers arguing in the editing room is typically asinine. They're watching a scene concerning "3 dykes in a sauna" and the old guy Gregory keeps insisting that they view "the rape scene". We then see cops interviewing Mrs. Greene (Mrs. Downey of course), a rape victim and they keep showing her mug shots of "rapers" in the area. This may be irreverent fodder for comedy, but Mr. Downey, where are the laughs? To parody the old beatnik stereotype, I imagine this movie could elicit bobble-head-like knowing nods from a hipster audience, silently murmuring "right on" at each in-joke, but no audible laughter.
Perhaps the telling scene (Art Linson alert) has Elsie wearing an eye-patch snorting cocaine, cueing the worst sequence of a bunch of people laughing insanely as they snort. Yet another movie made under the influence (my apologies to my favorite indie filmmaker, Cassavetes).
There's no ending, just a montage of random highlights' footage as hack saxophonist David Sanborn wails and a chorus chants.
Film opens with a lengthy "made possible by" credit list citing many famous critters, including Hal Ashby, James Buckley, Shep Gordon, Norman Lear, Jack Nicholson, Max Palevsky, Joseph Papp, Bud Smith, Haskell Wexler and Bud Yorkin. Unfortunately, the result was not ready for prime time in the '70s, and plays even dumber in 2011.
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