Wednesday, June 19, 2013

As Long as You're Healthy (June 21st and 22nd at the Cleveland Cinematheque)

[AS LONG AS YOU'RE HEALTHY screens Friday June 21st at 9:00 pm and Saturday June 22nd at 5:15 pm at the Cleveland Cinematheque.]

Review by Bob Ignizio

Although it plays more like a sketch comedy TV special than a true feature film, there's still much to enjoy in Pierre Etaix's comedy anthology AS LONG AS YOU'RE HEALTHY. Acts II through IV serve as commentaries on the frustrations of then-modern (1966) life, but the connection with opening segment “Insomnia” is somewhat more tenuous. Nonetheless, it's a fine piece in which Etaix stays up late reading a vampire novel, the film showing us the story in his mind's eye. Etaix combines elements from the silent era NOSFERATU, Tod Browning's 1931 DRACULA, and Terrence Fisher's 1959 HORROR OF DRACULA with his usual brand of sight gags for some thoroughly enjoyable ghoulish laughs, and shows that he might have had just as much flair for the horror genre as comedy.

The second segment is one many filmgoers can likely relate to even today, showing the many inconveniences and acts of rudeness one often endures when attending a crowded cinema before switching targets to the advertisements being shown with the movie (I thought this was a fairly recent development, but evidently not, at least in France). Part three shows the toll that the noise and pollution of the big city can take on ordinary people, leading logically into segment four, in which aggrieved city dwellers look to escape their stress in the country only to wind up causing grief for the folks who actually live and work there.

At a mere sixty minutes, AS LONG AS YOU'RE HEALTHY is a bit short to be a feature by modern standards (the Cinematheque is filling out the program with “Feeling Good”, a short that was originally part of the feature before Etaix recut the film in 1971). It's unlikely most viewers will feel shortchanged, though, as the film packs plenty of laughs and insightful jabs at deserving targets into its brief running time. 3 out of 4 stars.

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