' ' Cinema Romantico: My Christmas List: Top 5 Favorite Favorite Movie Servers

Monday, December 13, 2010

My Christmas List: Top 5 Favorite Favorite Movie Servers

The players of the Rose Theater in "Shakespeare In Love" have gathered in this tavern and if you listen closely you will hear a tavern waiter recite the daily special: "...a pig's foot marinated in juniper berry vinegar and served on a buckwheat pancake." Ah, the service industry, so often on the edge of the frame on the silver screen, just doin' what they do, ignored and unloved.  Well, not today.  Today we put them front and center.  Waiters, waitresses, bartenders, you name it.  Never have they been represented in such a sterling fashion as this quintet. Let me know who else needs to be on the list.

5. Joanna (Jennifer Aniston), "Office Space". Away from TGI Friday's-esque Chotchke's, where she is forced to wear "pieces of flair", Aniston's character is rather underwritten but inside Chotchke's the character and Aniston are entirely relatable as she is harangued for "only" wearing 15 pieces of flair before finally, acting as the ultimate audience surrogate, telling her boss where to stick it.

4. Beatnik Barman (Steve Buscemi), "The Hudsucker Proxy".  As the slinger of beverages at the "juice and coffee bar" where Jennifer Jason Leigh's 1950's reporter goes every New Year's Eve for a poetry marathon, Buscemi's Beatnik Barman finds himself fending off a drunken Tim Robbins' endless requests for a martini which leads to perhaps my favorite line in a film filled with fantastic lines: "Martinis are for squares, man."

3. Monica (Claire Forlani), "Mystery Men".  This 1999 film is a superhero comedy set in the fictional metropolis of Champion City and Forlani's Monica is a waitress at the coffee shop where our luckless band of wannabe superheroes gets together for coffee.  The character as presented is pretty funny, especially in the way she interacts with Ben Stiller's wobegone Mr. Furious in a very tentative romance ("Just. Be. Roy.") but my favorite part of this character is considering her non-existent backstory.  Really, how'd she end up in Champion City?  Did she move there with aspirations of becoming superhero and now is just waitressing to make ends meet?  Did she move there with a superhero who broke her heart and now she wiles her days away employed at this coffee shop?  Is she the daughter of a superhero and did she swear when she was younger she was going to leave Champion City and never look back only to find herself stuck in the place from which she so desperately wanted to run?  Has there ever been a more fascinating extranaeous character?

2. Bartender (Haymon Maria Buttinger), "Before Sunrise". So Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) have just their one night in Vienna and Celine decides she wants a bottle of red wine and so they enter this basement bar and Jesse goes up to the nameless bartender and explains: "I'm having kind of an odd situation. You see that girl over there? This is our only night together...and the problem is that she wants a bottle of red wine and I don't have any money." The bartender laughs. He's heard it before. Jesse continues: "But I was thinking that you might want to give me the address of this bar-" The Bartender's reaction here is priceless. The laugh fades, he gets firm, pulls back, kinda glares at this idiot American "-and I would promise to send you the money, and you would be making our night complete." The Bartender thinks it over and asks, hesitating, "You would send me the money?" Jesse says he would. "Your hand?" asks the bartender, and the two men shake hands and the Bartender gives him a bottle of wine and declares "For the greatest night of your life" and then the look he gets as Jesse and Celine leave is just the best because it seems to express that he really, genuinely hopes it is the greatest night of their life and - here's the key - if you're the sort of person who says the Bartender would never do that or that if you were the bartender you'd never do that or whatever, well, then you're obviously not a romantic in which case I'd prefer that you leave me alone and go do some long division.

(There are, as you might expect, no pictures anywhere on the interweb of the nameless "Before Sunrise" Bartender so here's a picture of a Cafaro Cabernet - mmmmmmmmmmm - which I like to pretend Jesse and Celine drank that night which, of course, makes no sense because it's a California wine but this is my fantasy, not yours, so perhaps you should just shut your yapper.)

1. Buddy Holly (Steve Buscemi), "Pulp Fiction". Two Buscemi servers on the list? Well, yeah. Dressed for service as the 1950's rockabilly star in Tarantino's "wax museum with a pulse", Jack Rabbit Slims, Buscemi's Holly is the stone cold epitome of the Irritated Waiter. No doubt he had to work a double shift that night because one of the Bill Haleys called in sick and he's not in a good mood and so he trudges up to the table and gives that gaspingly hilarious line reading of "Hi, I'm Buddy, what can I get ya?" And then the girl orders a five dollar milkshake and then the guy starts grilling him, the waiter, about the price of the milkshake as if the waiter is responsible for setting the prices. "It's a shake? That's milk and ice cream? That costs five dollars? You don't put bourbon in it or nothin'?" Buddy says they don't and now, utterly annoyed, leaves with the colossally uninterested "I'll be back with your drinks" as if to say "Tip, no tip, whatever, eff you." It's entirely possible that, aside from Uma Thurman, which, of course, goes without saying, Steve Buscemi gives the movie's best performance.


Wretched Genius said...

Again, I'm countering with only my top choice.

Janeane Garofalo in The Cable Guy.

Witness the Queen of Deadpan in action:

Simon said...

You, sir, get linked.