' ' Cinema Romantico: Ray of Light

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Ray of Light

Charles Grodin only has a few scenes in “Dave”, the first establishing his character, Murray Blum, as a CPA so that in the second, after his friend, mild-mannered Dave Kovic (Kevin Kline), has assumed the reigns of the American Presidency if only because he is a dead ringer for incapacitated President Bill Mitchell (Kline, also), summons him to the White House, he can do a little Federal Government accounting. In entering the Oval Office, Grodin plays the moment kind of physically off balance, as if he’s walking through a funhouse, as if he might fall down at any minute or suddenly be transported back to the proper dimension.

“Murray, I can’t tell you the whole story,” Dave explains, “it’s kind of a National Emergency kind of thing.”

“You gotta help me cut the budget a little.”

Initially, Grodin has Murray say nothing, just responding with this, an incredible stupefied stone face.

Finally, he speaks, his head never shifting, not one inch, his lips moving only so slightly. “You gotta cut the budget?” he does not so much ask as repeat, as if it’s a punchline, a bad one, and he’s waiting for Dave’s laughter.

And his lips settle into this, this smirk. He has just gone ahead and decided that it must be a punchline.

But it isn’t. Dave says: “About six-hundred and fifty-million dollars.”

And Grodin...well, Grodin doesn’t change a thing from the previous shot. It probably still is the previous shot. Why would he need to change? This is better than an official White House portrait.

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