Tuesday, September 05, 2006

THE LUNCH DATE


There are many who believe that absolute perfection is simply unattainable -- at least in this life and on this planet. I'm not certain where I stand on the issue, but I do know that I've seen things that come pretty darn close. For example, a Ferrari 550 Barchetta, or Italian super model Monica Bellucci or the "Manager's Special" at Parziale's Pizzeria in Canyon Lake, Texas. But these are topics for another day and another time...

When it comes to filmmaking, however, there are very few films which even come close to achieving perfection. And one of these is, unfortunately, not available for purchase anywhere. In this case I'm referring to a student film that was written and directed by Adam Davidson while attending Columbia University.

"A student film? You can't be serious?"

I am.

Winner of the Golden Palm for "Best Short Film" at the 1990 Cannes Film Festival and the recipient of the Oscar for "Best Short Film, Live Action" a year later, Davidson's THE LUNCH DATE is simply a phenomenal cinematic achievement. Throw in two (yes, two) Student Academy Awards and you can quickly discern that THE LUNCH DATE is very special, very special indeed.

Beautifully shot in black & white, this is the story of a white woman and her uncomfortable encounter with a black man in a cafeteria located in Grand Central Station. After taking her tray to an empty table she discovers she has forgotten her silverware. Upon her return she is astonished to find a large black man eating her food. After the initial shock subsides she decides to be defiant and to eat off the plate as well. When they are both finished the black man gets up and walks away, only to return with a cup of coffee for them both. After a sip or two the woman gets up and walks toward the exit. Just before stepping out she turns back and discovers that her own meal was on another table all this time.

With minimal dialog (and none between the two main characters), Davidson manages to tell a complete, complex, compelling and compassionate story in a mere ten minutes. He initially entertains the viewer by masterfully crafting a concise screenplay that contains a surprising twist and an even more surprising reversal. And then, just when it isn't expected, he astounds us with a stunning resolution that will not soon be forgotten.

Since his graduation Davidson has established a successful career directing a whole host of prime time television programs, including episodes of LAW & ORDER, MONK, SIX FEET UNDER, DEADWOOD and GREY'S ANATOMY to name only a few. With his obvious talent I, for one, would welcome his being given the chance to write and direct a feature film.

Surely that day will come.

17 Comments:

At 9:01 AM, Anonymous jenjln said...

A very impressive review of a memorable film, one that has been and should continue to be used in classrooms as not only a masterful piece of film work, but a brilliant study in prejudice and drawing false conclusions. It is not surprising that Adamson has gone on to direct some of TV's best shows.

 
At 11:40 AM, Anonymous mrn said...

i am so embarrassed for jenjln....obviously she meant davidson and not adamson....(as in adam davidson)....oh well, i guess that's why i love her....come to think of it, though....he might consider changing his name....it's done all the time in hollywood....and at least he would be at the front of the alphabet....mrn

 
At 4:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I saw this movie at a workshop so many years ago and have never forgotten it. Now I am in a position to show it to my students for a class workshop on perceptions and identity and cannot seem to find it anywhere. Does anyone have an idea how to obtain a copy of this masterpiece.

I have talked to Davidson's management company and all they said was that they will pass my request on to him.

It is completely amazing to me that such great work can vanish into thin air and cannot be found.

 
At 4:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I saw this movie at a workshop so many years ago and have never forgotten it. Now I am in a position to show it to my students for a class workshop on perceptions and identity and cannot seem to find it anywhere. Does anyone have an idea how to obtain a copy of this masterpiece.

I have talked to Davidson's management company and all they said was that they will pass my request on to him.

It is completely amazing to me that such great work can vanish into thin air and cannot be found.

 
At 10:18 AM, Anonymous Needtovent Headquarters said...

Deat Tony:

We have been unable to locate any source that carries THE LUNCH DATE -- be it for purchase or for rental. Apparently the film was shown on several occasions on HBO and a friend of ours happened to tape a showing off the air. If she hadn't done that, we would never have seen it.

Should you learn anything from Adam Davidson please let us know. Likewise, should we discover a source for this terrific short film we will post it immediately. It is a travesty that THE LUNCH DATE isn't readily available.

 
At 9:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

For everyones information The Lunch Date is on a compilation DvD of American Shorts under the title CINEMA 16 - see:-

http://www.cinema16.org/buy_new.html

hope this helps... seems like I might need to get my order in quickly in case they run out of stock!

James

 
At 9:37 AM, Anonymous Needtovent Headquarters said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 9:45 AM, Anonymous Needtovent Headquarters said...

James:

Thank you for allerting us to the fact that THE LUNCH DATE is now available on DVD. This is a film that should be in everyone's collection. What a great way to start 2008.

 
At 2:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for the DVD purchase info. I've been looking for this since it won the Oscar to supplement a management training presentation on investigaton--that is, things aren't always what they seem at first glance.

 
At 10:29 PM, Blogger Jeff said...

I don't know if this is good info or not and I'm not sure what it says about our culture - but I found the film on YouTube.

(I recall seeing it years ago someplace and never forgot it and on a hunch I looked on YouTube and there it was! - I love this film)

 
At 1:59 PM, Anonymous Needtovent Headquarters said...

Jeff:

Thank you for letting us know that THE LUNCH DATE is now available on YouTube. Hopefully this will expose this terrific short film to a whole new generation of people who might not see it otherwise.

 
At 1:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Youre such a plagiarizing dipshit
this isnt your review you took it from
http://www.needtovent.com/reviews/The_Lunch_Date/

srsly get your own stuff.

 
At 7:27 AM, Anonymous Needtovent Headquarters said...

A dipshit, perhaps, but a plagiarist -- absolutely not. This blog (www.needtovent-movies.blogspot.com) and the website you refer to (www.needtovent.com) are both proprietary endeavors by yours truly. On most occasions we post the same review on both since we have discovered that many of our readers only go to the blog and would otherwise miss the film reviews if they were only at the website.

Here's hoping we have cleared up this misconception.

Robert A. Nowotny

 
At 8:44 PM, Blogger L said...

I know this is an old post but I just came across it. I was able to purchase a VHS version of The Lunch Date a few years ago from The Lantz Office in New York City. The phone number I had at the time is 202-586-0200. Email is rlantz@lantzoffice.com. They asked that I send one check for the video and one for shipping, and then they mailed the video to me. They were exceptionally accommodating. It was not very expensive though more expensive than buying a regular video. The film is incredible and still relevant. Good luck if there's anyone out there still looking for the film.

lmurphyaz@gmail.com

 
At 1:24 PM, Blogger filmprof said...

Where can one find the shooting script for "The Lunch Date"? Want to compare the script to the film.

 
At 1:26 PM, Blogger filmprof said...

Where can one find the shooting script for "The Lunch Date". I have googled myself silly and cannot find it. I just want to compare the script to the film.

 
At 3:28 PM, Anonymous Robert A. Nowotny said...

Dear filmprof:

Unfortunately, no one here at Needtovent knows where a copy of the screenplay for THE LUNCH DATE can be found. We, too, would love to see it. Here's hoping someone will come across this request and can help us in our search.

Thanks for writing in...

 

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