"I love records. They're not for everyone, you know? You really have to take care of vinyl. It's very delicate, it can get wrecked so easily. You really have to love it." (Pause.) "Do you hear how full it sounds? You want to buy a thicker record. They're more stable, the grooves in them are deeper and wider. You can get more detail. They're heavier, they're harder to carry around, but they're worth it. My parents have this amazing turntable. It's vintage cherry wood Victor 45. Perfect turn. All the original parts. Can't wait to hear it again."
This is a speech Keira Knightley’s Penny delivers in the final third of “Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World.” As I heard her recite these words while giving the film a second viewing, I was struck by their similarity to the speech Paul Giamatti presents to Virginia Madsen regarding the delicacy and finer points of his favorite wine, Pinot Noir. “Pinot,” he says, “needs constant care and attention.”
The point, of course, is that Giamatti is talking about himself as he talks about Pinot Noir just as Knightley is talking about herself as she talks about vinyl. “It’s very delicate, it can get wrecked so easily.” Noting this, I then noted how “Sideways” probably cultivated this speech better than “Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World.”
But then I thought about it some more, and I wondered if this was the right way to approach it? To say “X” is better than “Y”? Vinyl is used to play music, obviously, and musicians are constantly riffing or borrowing or straight-up stealing previous material recorded by others for their own material.
At this past year’s South by Southwest Festival, keynote speaker Bruce Springsteen explained and demonstrated how he lifted the riff of The Animals’ “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” for his own personal gain. In his words: “It’s the same f---ing riff, man.” (When Bruce does it, everyone chuckles. When Lady Gaga does it, everyone cries heresy. But don’t get me started.)
Writer/Director Lorene Scafaria merely borrows a “Sideways” riff for “Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World.” I didn’t mind. I’ve decided I like them both equally.