Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Nothing Really Matters (Memories of Aging Strippers)

Posted By on Wed, Mar 31, 2004 at 12:00 AM

If I could offer one piece of advice to writer/director Fred Newman, it would be this: Stop while you’re ahead, pal.

Never have I been so charmed and delighted by the beginning of a film, only to recoil in horror as it slowly devolves into a train wreck of repetitive dialogue and a bludgeoning with the obvious. But the first 30 minutes were great, I tell ya!

The fictional tale goes like this: Tillie is an 80-something Holocaust survivor who totes her notebook through New York City, talking to people and eavesdropping on conversations, and then making up stories about the characters she encounters. Her latest collection of stories earns her a Nobel Prize for fiction.

Tillie then meets Jack, an uptight journalist from The Village Voice who’s interviewing her about the Nobel win. A truly delightful scene ensues when Jack grills Tillie about the differences between fact and fiction. “Truth? What is truth?” asks Tillie. “When you ask people what they’re doing, you’re just giving them an opportunity to lie.”

Tillie then announces she’s taking a class on the history and sociology of burlesque. The class is taught by a mousy professor named Paula. We then follow Paula as she interviews a 25-year veteran stripper named Carmela.

This is when the film falls to pieces, as it makes stabs at female bonding (contrived), stripping (you guessed it) and the hokey delivering of wise truths (statements of the obvious). The film begins at some point to taste like a bad, experimental, overly dramatic off-off-Broadway play. Lo and behold, it turns out Newman is a veteran writer/director of NYC theater, and the film (his first) is based on two of his plays.

Nothing Really Matters is a textbook case: A man should never attempt to write and direct a chick flick.


Nothing Really Happens (Memories of Aging Strippers) opens exclusively at the Roseville Theatre (28325 Utica Road at Gratiot, between 11 and 12 Mile) beginning Wednesday, April 7, at 7:30 p.m. The film shows through April 20, Monday through Thursday.

Sarah Klein is a Metro Times staff writer. E-mail her at


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