A cast of soon-to-be stars — including Mickey Rourke, Kevin Bacon and the immortal Steve Guttenberg — headline Barry Levinson’s nostalgic coming-of-age tale set in 1959 Baltimore. Emulating the episodic structure of I Vitelloni, the film recounts the reunion of five high-school friends now in their twenties, who have gathered for the imminent wedding of one of the group. Funny, raunchy and strangely sweet, the film humourously skewers the guys’ many failings with a prominent undertone of affection, plus an uncannily accurate ear for the rhythms and relations between male neo-adolescents. “Movies like Diner — fresh, well-acted and energetic American movies by new directors with the courage of their convictions — are an endangered species” (Janet Maslin, The New York Times). —tiff.
One of the more versatile American filmmakers of his generation, Barry Levinson’s movies showcased subjects as diverse as the immigrant experience, mob intrigue, and political satire. He earned particular acclaim for his semi-autobiographical portraits of life in 1950s Baltimore, a topic that he explored to great effect in Diner, his 1982 directorial debut.
Born in Baltimore on June 2, 1942, Levinson was the son of a warehouse manager. Initially intent on a career in the media, he studied Broadcast Journalism in college but didn’t remain there long enough to earn a degree. He instead switched his interests to acting and standup comedy, and, after serving a stint as a staff writer on The Carol Burnett Show, he was hired by producer Mel Brooks. The first film to carry a screenwriter credit for Levinson (in the company of several other writers) was Silent Movie (1976); this was followed by Brooks’ High Anxiety (1977), which also featured Levinson as a vengeful bellboy in the film’s… read more
I love movies with ensemble casts, and Diner was no exception. Usually, the groups are comprised of overused stereotypes yet the individual members of the diner crew were a treat to watch. Of course, it did help that all these kids are very good actors. Seeing a film in their humble beginnings was great.