BURNZY’S LAST CALL(director: Michael De Avila; screenwriter: George Gilmore; cinematographer: Scott St. John; editor: Shannon Goldman; music: Crispin Cioe; cast: David Johansen (Andre), Sam Gray (Burnzy), James McCaffrey (Sal), Sherry Stringfield (Jackie), Frederique Van Der Wal (Gertrude); Runtime: 88; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Tessa Blake; The Asylum; 1995)
“Not much to like or dislike.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Michael De Avila directs the low-budget indie Burny’s Last Call, George Gilmore handles the script. It revolves around a number of skits played out in a Manhattan bar. Everyone is more or less meant to have a shtick in this urban drama featuring an ensemble cast portraying an assorted group of eccentric characters (lush, chiseller, disgruntled worker, single female, recovering alcoholic, transvestite and so on). At some point in one long day, they all drink at the bar that opens early in the morning and closes at the wee hours of the night. This day happens to be the aging regular bar patron Burnzy’s (Gray) birthday, and we get to see him interact and get involved in the little dramas and arguments among the clientele in this old-fashioned dive. Sal (James McCaffrey) is your stereotypical friendly neighborhood bartender.
Not much to like or dislike, as it reminded me of many an unpretentious working-class gin mill I drank in back in the days when killing time was an art and a choice watering hole was a discovery worth cherishing. I can recall meeting mild characters like Burnzy, who would nurse drinks all day and bend my ear with war stories or some nostalgia tale that bored the heck out of me. But I always had a soft spot for those honest joes, just like I do for this flick. Don’t ask me why! Anyway, at least, this time I don’t have to worry about drinking and driving.
If I was going to make an inane plotlesss film like this one, I could have come up with much funnier stories and characters who weren’t so stiff. The film had no bite or purpose. Steve Buscemi’s “Tree’s Lounge” is a much more enjoyable bar film, that is if you’re looking for a film whose main character you can more easily care about.
The music is filtered through the bar’s juke box and the rock music dished out is by the likes of Iggy Pop, Evan Dando, and Deborah Harry. I doubt if I would ever choose to hang out in this bar or listen to those singers, but I know I drank in bars that were a lot worse and the clientele much trashier and the music much more Sinatraish.
Burny’s Last Call won the Best Dramatic Feature Award at the Atlantic City Film Festival (I wasn’t even aware that Atlantic City had any movie theaters).
REVIEWED ON 2/14/2004 GRADE: C+
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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