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Quirk Lives

Michael Hirschorn has an article
in the September issue of The Atlantic Monthly entitled "Quirked Around," in
which he gathers together examples of endearing eccentricity both modern (Little Miss Sunshine) and relatively
ancient (David Byrne). He’s against it,
mostly, and he makes some good points. We
do seem to be drowning in quirk of late.

In the 1980s, the major
contributions to the catalog of teen quirk were made by John Hughes (catch Pretty in Pink tomorrow night on AMC and
study both Molly Ringwald and Jon Cryer). You can draw a direct line from Anthony Michael Hall’s odd little dance
in Sixteen Candles to Jon Heder’s odd
somewhat bigger dance in Napoleon

Quirk is positive. (Heroes have quirks. Villains have pathologies.) And sometimes it’s not a film’s characters
who exhibit quirks, it’s the film itself.  Witness The
Fisher King
, airing this month on AMC. It wanders off in unexpected directions,
slows down, speeds up, digresses. Certain scenes – the ballroom dancing in Grand Central Station, Michael
Jeter’s singing telegram – are effective, beautiful even, in isolation. But they don’t fit comfortably into the larger
narrative. The film is well worth a
look, both for the fine acting (Robin Williams was nominated for his role;
Mercedes Ruehl won for hers) and for the hallucinatory fantasy sequences.

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