A MAY SKY PICTURE ENTERTAINMENT presents
A C. FRASER PRESS/DARREN PRESS film
THERESA IS A MOTHER
EDIE McCLURG, C. FRASER PRESS, RICHARD POE
MATTHEW GUMLEY, ROBERT TURANO, ELAINE BROMKA
SCHUYLER IONA PRESS, MAEVE PRESS and AMAYA PRESS
Music based upon the original songs by SCHUYLER IONA PRESS
Music arranged by JOHN FERRARA and GAABE SCHNIDER
Editor: CHAD SMITH
Set Designed by CAMERON STERN
Costumes Designed by LAUREN OPPELT
Director of Photography: ALEX KORNREICH
Sound by CJ DeGENNARO
Associate Producer: CHRISTINA POWERS
Produced by DARREN PRESS
Written by C. FRASER PRESS
Directed by C. FRASER PRESS & DARREN PRESS
To Theresa (C. Fraser Press) life is a song. You may find it at a Laundromat, in a Gospel kitchen, or on an iPod. Although her life-long dream of being a professional musician has remained unfulfilled, the beat goes on against all odds as pesky details like rent and bills persist. In a last-ditch attempt at survival Theresa packs up her three children (Schuyler Iona Press, Maeve Press, Amaya Press) and leaves New York City to return to her rural childhood home. Her parents (the delightful Edie McClurg and Richard Poe) open their house, if not their hearts, to this eccentric female traveling band. Let the familial insanity begin!
THERESA IS A MOTHER is an unconventional tale of dreams and reality, past and present, responsibility and neglect, and closures and beginnings. The characters are so bizarre that at first you wonder what you are watching. But as the story unfolds, slowly the universal human elements are revealed and you are suddenly caught up in this wacky and incongruous group of people.
If that isn’t impressive enough for you, most of the actors are related. In addition to having written THERESA IS A MOTHER, C. Fraser Press co-directs and stars as the mother. Her three children belong to the Press family, as does the co-director (Darren Press). Still not imPRESSed? All the music in the film is based on the original songs by Schuyler Iona Press. Obviously THERESA IS A MOTHER is a family affair in both fiction and fact. What isn’t so obvious is its inspirational message. That sneaks up on you and packs a powerful punch.
- Laurie Lawson -
ONE NIGHT STAND
Directed and Produced by ELIZABETH SPERLING and TRISH DALTON
Director of Photography: NARA GARBER
Editors: KAREN WEINBERG and JULIE JANATA
34 West 13th Street (between Fifth & Sixth Avenues)
(212) 255-2243 or email@example.com
Opens April 26, 2013
Nothing but fun – that’s what you’re going to find in ONE NIGHT STAND. Okay, there will be a lot of stress, sweat, tears, and even vomiting but all in all this documentary is hilarious. This film follows the likes of Rachel Dratch, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Richard Kind, Mandy Gonzalez, Capathia Jenkins, and Cheyenne Jackson, along with other top Broadway and Hollywood writers, actors and directors as they attempt the impossible – producing four original short musicals from blank page to live stage within 24 hours. This is part of The 24 Hour Musicals event, and it is designed to both celebrate creativity and create chaos. First writers and composers having never worked together are charged with creating scripts and songs literally overnight. At daybreak actors and directors are given the daylight hours to memorize and rehearse lines, lyrics, and dance steps. And as the sun slowly sets in the West, it’s Showtime! And there are actually four shows that are presented. But the real entertainment in ONE NIGHT STAND is the behind-the-scenes activities as theatrical magic is fashioned.
- Laurie Lawson -
A Limelight Records DVD and CD Release
Release Date: April 06, 2010
Available at www.ericwoolfsonmusic.com and various online retail outlets
In 1974 a fortuitous meeting took place between songwriter and keyboardist Eric Woolfson and engineer and producer Alan Parsons at the now-famous Abbey Road Studios in London. Two years later a collaboration produced “Tales of Mystery and Imagination,” an album based on the stories of Edgar Allen Poe. The album was a success and the forerunner of several other albums known as the Alan Parsons Projects. And now Woolfson’s musical POE is being introduced to the United States via a DVD and a CD of the same name, fulfilling the dreams of Eric Woolfson who died four months ago.
POE is a history of the author’s life interspersed between subjects and themes of his writings. This is a rich story that has the makings of a masterpiece. The music is refreshingly composed with a bit of darkness and light blended by haunting cords and unexpectedly upbeat rhythms. The songs manage to captivate us, as did Poe with his stories, appealing to our fascination with the macabre. Andrew Lloyd Webber protégé Steve Balsamo portrays Poe in the DVD and sings seven of the songs on the CD.
POE is an impressive musical tribute to a literary genius that captured the attention and stimulated the imaginations of readers everywhere. It is creative entertainment that demands a stage in the midst of cultural history. Let’s hope it gets one in New York City.
- Laurie Lawson -
urbanworld FILMS presents THE VISIT Directed & Produced by Jordan Walker-Pearlman Screenplay by Jordan Walker-Pearlman Based on The Play THE VISIT by Kosmond Russell Starring Hill Harper - Rae Dawn Chong - Billy Dee Williams - Marla Gibbs - Phylicia Rashad Opening December 13, 2000 Original Music by - Michael Bearden, Stefan Dickerson, Ramsey Lewis Wallace Roney, Stanley A. Smith Cinematographer - John Ndiaga Demps Costume Designer - Carlos Rosario Production Designer - John Larena Editing - Alison Learned, Jordan Walker-Pearlman Line Producer - Charla Driver Executive Producers - Vicky Pike, Morris Ruskin, Stacy Spikes Co-Executive Producers - Peter Kleidman, Kosmond Russell, Chet Williams III Associate Producers - Susanne Columbia, Anastasia King Principal Cast Alex Waters.........................Hill Harper Tony Waters.........................Obba Babatunde Felicia McDonald....................Rae Dawn Chong Henry Waters........................Billy Dee Williams Lois Waters.........................Marla Gibbs Dr. Coles...........................Phylicia Rashad Marilyn Coffey......................Talia Shire Bill Brenner........................David Clennon Al Rheingold........................Glynn Turman Max Cruz............................Efrain Figueroa Julie Bronsky.......................Amy Stiller
Inspired by real events, THE VISIT is a story of personal redemption in the face of physical incarceration and deterioration. Alex Waters, affectingly played by Hill Harper, is in prison for rape. After five years, in the face of the encroachment of full-blown AIDS, Waters begins to reach out to his family. Initially hostile and vulgar, even to his own family, Waters' tone softens and matures in the course of the film. One constant is that in every situation, he vehemently insists on his innocence. What initially seems to be an issue of physical freedom soon emerges as a journey toward spiritual vindication. Toward this goal, much of Waters as he sees himself is revealed through a series of dream sequences. Healthy in repose, even as his body is ravaged, for much of the film the best part of Waters' life exists within his dreams. The action here unfolds through a series of meetings, memories and dreams. Alex Waters regularly visits with prison psychologist, Dr. Coles (Phylicia Rashad). His family makes intermittent visits. His life is status quo until an old acquaintance and abuse survivor, Felicia McDonald (Rae Dawn Chong), makes an unexpected visit. At this point, redemption of the mind enters the picture. It is here that Alex Waters' dreams move beyond his prison cell. Perhaps lengthy, if well-intentioned, THE VISIT is full of fine performances and good intentions. - Kessa De Santis -
Colpo di Luna (MOON SHADOW) A film by Alberto Simone Starring Nino Manfredi with Isabelle Pasco and Tcheky Karyo Opens December 1, 2000 Cinema Village 22 East 12 Street New York City Running time: 82 minutes In Italian with English subtitles Director /Screenwriter - Alberto Simone Cinematography - Roberto Benvenuti Editor - Enzo Meniconi Music - Vittorio Cosma Art Direction - Andrea Crisanti Costume Design - Beatrice Bordone Sound - Remo Ugolinelli Production Design - Andrea Crisanti Producers - Roberta Manfredi, Alessandro Olivieri Co-producers - Leonardo de la Fuente, Eddy Wijngaarde Associate Producers - San Fu Maltha, Pim van Collem Executive Producers - Conchita Airoldi, Dino Di Dionisio Cast Lorenzo..........................Tcheky Karyo Salvatore........................Nino Manfredi Luisa............................Isabelle Pasco Agostino.........................Jim Van der Woude Titto............................Johan Leyson Filippo..........................Mimmo Mancini Michele..........................Paolo Sassanelli Strikingly shot in an interesting cinematographical style, COLPO di LUNA (MOON SHADOW), a subtle venture into modern allegory presents the sort of cerebral adventure so painfully lacking in American cinema. The plot revolves around an ordinary scientist, Lorenzo, who is unexpectedly thrust into a "community" for mentally challenged adults. Far from an asylum, this place is more like an assisted living facility. The staff encourage marginal autonomy and creative self-expression. Emotionally repressed Lorenzo slowly engages both the staff and the residents, and it changes him. Lyrical Italian, and the lush backdrop present in dramatic contract to the internal disarray experienced by the majority of the characters presented in this film. Through flashbacks, always shown in action or print in brownish hues and grainy textures, personal histories are revealed. This artistic continuity aids in the coherence of the piece, which could have easily dissolved into a disparate series of psychiatric counseling sessions. Instead, the interactions are real, human and touching. Admittedly a fan of foreign film, I applaud COLPO di LUNA for providing mature viewing. The action is internal. When characters are affected, it is in the nature of their conceptions and philosophies. What a welcome change. - Kessa De Santis -
LIONS GATE FILMS Presents THE BIG KAHUNA Starring KEVIN SPACEY DANNY DEVITO PETER FACINELLA Opens April 28, 2000 Directed by..............................................JOHN SWANBECK Screenplay by............................................ROGER RUEFF Producers..ELIE SAMAHA/KEVIN SPACEY/ANDREW STEVENS Director of Photography..................................ANASTAS MICHOS Production Designer......................................KALINA IVANOV Editor...................................................PEGGY DAVIS Composer.................................................CHRISTOPHER YOUNG THE BIG KAHUNA takes place in a 16th-floor hospitality suite with a view of Wichita. Here two veteran businessmen, Larry (Kevin Spacey) and Phil (Danny DeVito), come together with newcomer Bob (Peter Facinella) in hopes of reeling in a lucrative account - "the big kahuna." As the men reveal their business philosophies and the night progresses without bagging "the big kahuna," the true personalities and emotions of each come to the surface, clashing and co-mingling. The men face the next day with a greater understanding of each other, their jobs, and themselves. Spacey, as always, dominates the screen with the brash-yet-charming character of Larry. Boldly speaking his mind and often offending the neophyte Bob, he diffuses the tension with a conciliatory smile and bad-boy appeal. DeVito exudes wisdom and gives Spacey a run for his money in screen domination. Weariness and insight penetrate his definition of honesty, which will blow you away. And Facinella as the innocent newcomer holds his own among these stars. Writer Roger Rueff has peppered his witty dialogue with sophisticated humor and offers interaction that comes off totally believable and natural. Director John Swanbeck enhances the intensity with closeups and maintains a brisk pace. THE BIG KAHUNA is a winner on all fronts - three superb actors, a few life lessons (stay and "listen" to the closing credits - you're sure to make a few resolutions of your own), and a story that both entertains and enlightens. -Laurie Lawson-
WOMEN (ELLES) A WinStar Cinema release of a Samsa Film production Directed by LUIS GALVAO TELES Release date: October 29, 1999 Screenplay by LUIS GALVAO TELES and DON BOHLINGER Cinematographer ALFREDO MAYO Starring Linda..........................................................CARMEN MAURA Eva............................................................MIOU-MIOU Chloe..........................................................MARISA BERENSON Barbara........................................................MARTHE KELLER Branca.........................................................GUESCH PATTI With Gigi...........................................................JOAQUIM de ALMEIDA Luis...........................................................MORGAN PEREZ Edgar..........................................................DIDIER FLAMAND Ines...........................................................MARIE GUILLARD Tiago..........................................................FLORENCE LOIRET Raquel.........................................................MAPI GALAN WOMEN is a new ensemble film which features an international cast in a story about coming to terms with desires, needs and intimacy. The primary focus is on the lives of a group of five friends, each of whom is experiencing, by varying degrees, some sort of personal crisis. Written in a manner which may seem to be less than pro-male through the course of the film, the script, by Luis Galvao Teles and Don Bohlinger, is tinged with realism and has a feel of authenticity. Though the tone of the film is not anti-relationship per se, the characters of WOMEN, both the women and the men, often have cause to take issue with their respective partners. Yet, even as they do, there is something hopelessly romantic about this film. Even when characters seem to be suffering, it is mostly do to what can best be described as love-sickness. Aside from the fleeting relationship glitches, the audience is offered a sacrificial cow in the form of caterer, mother, divorcee Barbara (Marthe Keller). Still in love with her ex-husband, and planning her daughter's upcoming wedding, Barbara falls seriously ill. An unfortunate choice for this particular role, Ms. Keller, though good in the lighter moments, especially as part of the circle of friends, lacks credibility as a victim. Her grief and torment seem forced and unreal. Quite a surprise, she missed the mark. Another problem in the film is the underwritten part of Chloe, played by Marisa Berenson. Little more than a cryptic, ex-junkie who lusts after friend Branca (Guesch Patti), Chloe is described more often than revealed. Her sexuality and history are never explored in more than a fleeting way. In comparison to the other four women, she is like a footnote. A few strained moments exist within the framework, but do not serve to cripple WOMEN. Although the dying comrade motif seems trite and overused, it does not undermine this promising script. The characters lives and stories are all intertwined, so that, in the end, everything comes together neatly. Teles offers a welcome happy ending in a film that is full of sexual encounters, personal victories, and personal tragedies. At the end, there is hope. WOMEN could easily be dismissed as just another chick flick, but few of those not only feature actors of this caliber, but also a story that, far from a tear-jerking tragedy, is uplifting without being grandiose or extreme. - Kessa De Santis -
Strand Releasing Presents
SHOW ME LOVE
Written and Directed by LUKAS MOODYSSON
Release date: October 15, 1999
Cinematographer ULF BRANTAS
Johan Hult.......................MATHIAS RUST
SHOW ME LOVE is a tale of teen angst with a decidedly different spin.
Pretty, popular Elin (Alexandra Dahlstrom), is the object of affection in an
unusual love triangle. Isolated loner Agnes (Rebecca Liljeberg), and
average teen Johan (Mathias Rust), unbeknownst to each other, are each
vying for Elin's attention. As the plot unravels, in not really unpredictable,
but nevertheless, realistically crafted ways, writer-director Lukas
Moodysson taps into the humanity of his characters. These people seem
real. Even a scene depicting teens at a drunken party never degenerates to
the point of presenting the characters as caricatures.
Holding the film up to a mirror of reality, it can be faulted for presenting
many characters who are, perhaps, too generous of spirit, and too
understanding. As Agnes' lesbianism enters the public consciousness, she
is subjected to a degree of ridicule, and like many teens in her position,
becomes suicidal. However, her peers, though mean at times, are never
genuinely cruel, and her father (Ralph Carlsson), is so attentive and
concerned for his depressed daughter, that hers seems unlike the
experiences of most adolescents.
In terms of the structure of the work, all of the elements are in place. Elin
is the type of girl who believes she will be a movie star, shows a lot of
cleavage, and has a "reputation." She spends a good deal of her time with
her sister (Erica Carlson), but fights with her often. She laments the
limitations of her small town, Amal, despite her popularity. Agnes is quiet
and cute, with a comparatively muted appearance, and virtually no friends.
She has temper outbursts that are spurred by her dissatisfaction with her
life, but she never seems hopeless. A relative newcomer to Amal, she too
longs for something else, but what Agnes wants is to fit in.
Moodysson's film comes across, ultimately, as inherently optimistic.
Perhaps he is of the next generation of film makers, for whom subjects like
a teen's coming out sexually will be a plot complication and not an obstacle
to be overcome. In spite of the fact that SHOW ME LOVE was originally
released under the title FUCKING AMAL, the film has quite a positive,
if gooey ending.
- Kessa De Santis -
In Swedish with English subtitles.
Castle Hill Productions and Hawkeye Entertainment Present A GIRL CALLED ROSEMARIE A film by BERND EICHINGER Release Date: October 15, 1999 Directed by BERND EICHINGER Produced by BERND EICHINGER and USCHI REICH Screenplay by BERND EICHINGER and UWE WILHELM Director of Photography GERNOT ROLL Cast Rosemarie..................................................NINA HOSS Hartog.....................................................HEINER LAUTERBACH Fribert....................................................MATHIEU CARRIERE Bruster....................................................HORST KRAUSE Marga......................................................HANNELORE ELSNER Christine..................................................KATJA FLINT Nadler.....................................................TIL SCHWEIGER von Oelsen.................................................HEINRICH SCHAFMEISTER A GIRL CALLED ROSEMARIE, based on the life of Rosemarie Nitribitt, a notorious character in 1950's Frankfurt, is an intriguing piece of filmmaking. Created by first-time director Eichinger, this promising film was, remarkably, made for German television. Audiences need not fear, however, because the piece has none of the trappings or shortcomings that a U.S. audience would expect from a TV movie of the week. In fact, had it not been publicized, there is nothing about A GIRL CALLED ROSEMARIE that would cause an audience to imagine that it was ever conceived of as anything but a feature film. Rosemarie Nitribitt, an orphan, and delinquent of sorts, eventually became a prostitute, a pawn in a nasty attempt at corporate blackmail, and the center of a sensational, unsolved crime. A character who is essentially in search of love and a better life for herself, Rosemarie is ultimately a victim of her own ambitions. In her unrealistic attempt to marry her lover, Hartog (Heiner Lauterbach), Rosemarie becomes trapped in a web from which she cannot escape. Entrusting her future to a "benefactor," Fribert (Mathieu Carriere), she enters high society through the back door, all the while imagining that she can leave her sordid past behind and become a lady of high society. Her union with Fribert has far-reaching and tragic results. The path that leads her there is consistently engaging in this fine film. Eichinger's cinematic interpretation of Ms. Nitribitt's short, volatile life is dramatically solid and unflinching in its vision. Although the series of upper-class men that constitute Rosemarie's client base each represents a type or caricature of sorts, for instance, a monocle wearing prince, Nina Hoss, as the title character, is quite impressive and genuine in her approach to the role. She imbues the role with joie de vivre, and even splashes of humor. The cast, as a whole, is filled with fine actors, and Eichinger, as director, creates a universe in which his heroine is truly the center of attention. From the beginning of the film, when young Rosemarie, movie magazines in hand, is thrown into a workhouse, to the end, when she crashes a party decked out in Marilyn Monroe inspired attire and hair, we are drawn into her world of lofty dreams and grim reality. Perhaps the greatest achievement of A GIRL CALLED ROSEMARIE is that it leaves the audience wanting more. The running time of just over two hours seemed to breeze by, and by the end I was hungry for the real story of Rosemarie Nitribitt, and for all of the details that were hinted at in Eichinger's film. In German with English subtitles. - Kessa De Santis -
Merchant Ivory Films, in association with Artistic License Films presents ON CONNAIT LA CHANSON (Same Old Song) Written by AGNES JAOUI and JEAN-PIERRE BACRI Directed by ALAIN RESNAIS Opening October 15, 1999 Starring PIERRE ARDITI SABINE AZEMA JEAN-PIERRE BACRI ANDRE DUSSOLLIER AGNES JAOUI LAMBERT WILSON JANE BIRKIN ON CONNAIT LA CHANSON (Same Old Song) would be rather standard fare were it not for the odd addition of random bouts of lip-synching which repeatedly replaces the dialogue in this film. Filled with snippets of a seemingly endless number of what are probably popular songs, the film would surely be better received in France, where the tunes would be familiar to audiences. Here they are an odd footnote to what is a good, though hardly extraordinary, film. Apparently, the convention of lip-synching is director Resnais' way of paying tribute to the late Dennis Potter, who also employed this tactic in such works as Pennies from Heaven and The Singing Detective. As for ON CONNAIT LA CHANSON, the story does not seem to benefit from the addition of the music, but it is not so intrusive as to be an absolute detriment either. At the core, the film is about very basic human interactions. There is a love triangle, a cheating spouse, a hopeless optimist, a hypochondriac, a woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown... And all of the elements and subplots are neatly and clearly resolved by the end. So, what writers Jaoui and Bacri, and director Resnais have created here really is the same old song. The script is good, the direction fine,the actors able, and game, but they are all singing a familiar tune. There are no spectacular, transcending moments here, and there probably weren't meant to be. ON CONNAIT LA CHANSON is an experiment, an homage, set to a decent story, and performed by some engaging people. It is odd, strangely optimistic, and difficult to recommend. - Kessa De Santis -
81/2 Directed by FEDERICO FELLINI A Corinth Film Released by Kino International Opening April 9, 1999 Exclusive engagement at the Paris Theatre (4 West 58th St.)
FEDERICO FELLINI TULLIO PINELLI ENNIO FLAIANO BRUNELLO RONDI
MARCELLO MASTROIANNI CLAUDIA CARDINALE ANOUK AIMEE SANDRA MILO Federico Fellini's 81/2, winner of the 1963 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, is being rereleased for an exclusive theatrical showing. A stunning, timeless achievement in filmmaking, it should not be missed. Beautifully and memorably shot, 81/2 explores the life of the main character, Guido (Marcello Mastroianni), from two different perspectives. Here, reality and fantasy are at once distinctive and cinematically blended, so that Guido's story is told from the inside out. These different levels of perception give the film dimension without a great abundance of plot complications. A good deal of the action takes place in Guido's mind, as he seeks resolutions through daydreams that could never be achieved in reality. In his real world, Guido is a filmmaker who is struggling to complete his latest project. Situated at a spa where he has gone for a rest cure, Guido surrounds himself with colleagues, his mistress, Carla (Sandra Milo), and later, his wife, Luisa (Anouk Aimee). Guido is a man who wants it all, but without the responsibility. He lies to his wife about his mistress, and when she does not believe his explanation that the affair had ended three years prior, he retreats into an extended fantasy sequence. In his mind, Luisa and Carla join hands, then the scene changes, and they become just two members of a bizarre harem, filled with all the female characters in the film. In this place, the older women are banished to live upstairs, and even when they begin to revolt, they quickly quiet down, with Luisa adopting her matronly role and doing the "family" laundry. These scenes give great insight into Guido's character. When not reliving moments from his past, he engages in fantasy. He seems desperate to flee reality, exuding an innate weakness to be definitive in the real world. Fellini created something delicious with this film. It is a world of daydreams and odd encounters that has clearly become a template for avant-garde films to follow. Fans of the cinema should not miss 81/2. It stands as a reminder of what creative filmmaking should aim to achieve. - Kessa De Santis -
Fox Lorber Presents A Hotwire/Complex Corporation Production CONCEIVING ADA Produced and Directed by LYNN HERSHMAN LEESON Screenplay by LYNN HERSHMAN LEESON and EILEEN JONES Release date: February 26, 1999 Starring TILDA SWINTON and FRANCESCA FARIDANY
CONCEIVING ADA is a technologically innovative film about a computer programmer's (Francesca Faridany) attempt to create an interactive dialogue with a virtual incarnation of Lady Ada Lovelace (Tilda Swinton) who exists in the computer. The premise starts out basic enough. A person from this era wants not only to watch history, but to converse with an important figure from the past. Unfortunately, a promising idea becomes muddled along the way. While the scenes are pretty to look at, the means by which programmer Emmy Coer interfaces with her hero is never coherently or plausibly accounted for in the script. The film has a great cast, which includes not only the two leads, but also Karen Black, as the mother of both main characters, and the late Timothy Leary, in an appropriately flaky role as Emmy Coer's mentor, Sims. The Sims character embodies the flaws in the science here. His advice to Emmy seems mystical and philosophical, but not at all technological. Director Lynn Hershman Leeson invented the "LHL Process of Virtual Sets" for CONCEIVING ADA. This seems to be a case where the quest to use new methods to create the visual part of the film allowed the story to fall along the wayside. CONCEIVING ADA is an imagined biography of Lady Ada Lovelace. Here, the life of Ada is far more interesting than that of her "conceiver," Emmy. It is no surprise, then, that Emmy becomes obsessed with Ada's life. For the viewer, therefore, Emmy serves only as a hindrance to learning about a much more interesting character. The film would have worked far better as a straight tale of Ada. Imagined or not, Ada's biography is titillating. - Kessa De Santis -
Strand Releasing presents DRY CLEANING (Nettoyage a Sec) Directed by ANNE FONTAINE For release February 5, 1999 Screenplay Dialogues by GILLES TAURAND and ANNE FONTAINE Starring MIOU-MIOU, CHARLES BERLING and STANISLAS MERHAR DRY CLEANING is a provocative tale of the undoing of a seemingly mainstream couple who become fatally involved with an alluring stranger. Nicole and Jean-Marie Kunstler (Miou-Miou, Charles Berling), owners and operators of a dry cleaning establishment, form an unlikely friendship with Loic (Stanislas Merhar), a transvestite performer, after seeing his act, and paying for his services as a "gigolo." Through a series of events, Loic comes to live and work with the Kunstlers. These characters inhabit a dingy, dark world. Jean-Marie, while meticulous in his profession, allows life to happen to him when it comes to personal matters. He seems, at times, unwilling, perhaps unable to act, except in the extreme. His inaction is one edge of the triangle. Nicole embraces the novelty of Loic, and he becomes her sustenance to the detriment of everything she has known before. Loic, an orphan, is sexualized and needy. Alternately crass and composed, the Kunstler's interest in him is credible as played here. As a screenplay, DRY CLEANING does not hold all that many surprises, despite the subject matter. The "spontaneous" sexual encounters between Nicole and Loic are nothing new. Jean-Marie's reaction upon witnessing the couple is not unexpected either. Nothing that happens in DRY CLEANING, in fact, is out of step with the tone of the film. That the events are not shocking makes the plight of the characters all the more evident. The audience sees what they are stepping into ages before it happens. Caught up in the ride, these characters are unable to see the pitfalls at every turn. That the characters are so credible is to the credit of the three leading actors, who each seems to be the person they are portraying. Anne Fontaine's direction highlights the darkness that surrounds these characters, and which leads them to follow such doomed desires. As a whole, DRY CLEANING can best be said to inhabit a world of its own. In French with English subtitles. - Kessa De Santis -
Shadow Distribution Presents A Paradis Films production PORT DJEMA Directed by ERIC HEUMANN Opening December 11, 1998 Screenplay by ERIC HEUMANN and JACQUES LEBAS with LAM LE Cast Pierre Feldman JEAN-YVES DUBOIS Alice NATHALIE BOUTEFEU Jerome Delbos CHRISTOPHE ODENT Ousman EDOUARD MONTOUTE Soeur Marie-Francoise CLAIRE WAUTHION Antoine Barasse FREDERIC PIERROT PORT DJEMA is set in a small, East African country of the same name. Port Djema, a remnant of the French Empire, is in the midst of an ethnic war. Told from the point of view of Dr. Pierre Feldman (Jean-Yves Dubois), who has traveled far from his Parisian home to fulfill a promise to a murdered friend, the film is gripping and subtly mysterious. Set to beautiful music by Sanjay Mishra, and filmed by cinematographer Yorgos Arvanitas, PORT DJEMA is quite a package. As Pierre makes his way around the region, searching for a child once looked after by his deceased friend, Dr. Antoine Barasse (Frederic Pierrot), he is soon thrust into the heart of the conflict. Within days, he has walked in his friend's shoes, despite warnings and the apparent dangers that await him at every turn. On his journey he meets Alice (Nathalie Boutefeu), a photographer who shoots shadows and remnants. She photographs not the people caught up in the conflict, but the things they leave behind. Also a friend of Antoine's, Alice is like a shadow herself, appearing to be incidental in most scenes, but ultimately of great significance. This story is cleverly told from the viewpoint of Pierre, a character relatively unfamiliar with the politics and goings-on in Port Djema. The details of the conflict are minor here. The real focus of PORT DJEMA is the journey that one man must make, physically and spiritually, in fulfillment of a promise. The real tale is a cerebral one, about what Pierre learns along the way. PORT DJEMA is a thoroughly watchable film. The acting, writing, directing all come together to make this something worth seeing. - Kessa De Santis -
AMKO PRODUCTIONS, INC. PRESENTS SUE AN AMOS KOLLEK FILM Opening November 20, 1998 Starring ANNA THOMSON as Sue Cast Ben MATTHEW POWERS Lola TAHNEE WELCH Linda TRACEE ROSS Larry JOHN VENTIMIGLIA Eddi EDOARDO BALLERINI Sven MATTHEW FABER Willie ROBERT KYA HILL Interviewer DECHEN THURMAN Sydney JOSHUA KAPLAN Phil LAZARO PEREZ SUE is a film about loneliness and desperation. Set in New York City, it explores the way in which an individual can be alone, by choice or chance, even in the crowds of a populous city. Though far from uplifting, the film, written, directed and produced by Amos Kollek, is not without charm, wit and humor. Anna Thomson plays Sue with alternating currents of sexuality and disintegration, but always with the destructive quality of her actions in the forefront. The action follows Sue through a series of random meetings with strangers, most of them sexual. As her desperation and alienation mounts, she seeks out more unlikely companions, even as she pushes aside her chances for real friendship and love. Along the way, Sue encounters Lola, a thief and prostitute, engagingly played by Tahnee Welch, a psychology student (Tracee Ross), and a maybe-boyfriend, Ben, credibly portrayed by Matthew Powers. Even Austin Pendleton makes a brief appearance as a man who mistakes Sue for a prostitute. Many of Sue's encounters are destructive, but even when she is fortunate enough to happen upon those who seem to genuinely care for her, she is unable to make the choice that will improve her life. That, in a nutshell, is SUE. The actual plot complications revolve around her desperate attempts to secure employment and keep her apartment, but the meat of the movie is the ongoing series of random meetings that characterize the transiency of Sue's relationships, the genuine isolation that she experiences. Anna Thomson is affecting as Sue. Sometimes alluring, sometimes repugnant in her desperation and decline, Ms. Thomson has captured a soul past the brink, on the verge of hitting the ground. The darkness of this film is palpable, but lightened enough to make it more real than wrenching. SUE won't bring you to tears, and it won't make you want to go out and hug every lonesome stranger that crosses your path, but it is an interesting little story. It will probably make your own life seem a whole lot brighter. - Kessa De Santis -
RIVER RED A New Film by ERIC DRILLING Opening November 6, 1998 at The Quad Starring TOM EVERETT SCOTT, DAVID MOSCOW, CARA BUONO, LEO BURMEISTER, DAVID LOWERY Dave (Tom Everett Scott) and Tom (David Moscow) Holden are the victims of a cruel father. As the younger brother, Tom takes the brunt of abuse until one fateful night when Dave kills his father. To protect his older brother from a jail sentence, Tom takes the blame for the murder and is sentenced to two years in a juvenile facility. Dave is free from jail but not from his conscience and the guilt of his deeds. As Tom pays the penalty for a crime he did not commit, Dave punishes himself by turning to a life of crime and isolating the people who want to help, including his new-found girlfriend Rachel (Cara Buono). RIVER RED is supposed to be a film about passion, the bond between brothers, and the human need to redeem ourselves. The viewer must make many leaps in order to reach these conclusions. We do not witness enough violence or its aftermath to justify a murder. After the crime has been committed, the reactions of the brothers are almost matter of fact. A condition of shock and denial can be warranted immediately following the deed, but for the majority of the film Scott and Moscow interact in a mono-syllable, semi-comatose state. Finally after Moscow is released from the juvenile facility, a multi-faceted personality emerges, and his effort to save his brother is touching. RIVER RED is a fine story of parallels and contrasts. Unfortunately, it lacks intensity, suspense, and anything with which we could empathize. Its attempts to be arty consist of bucolic scenes by a tranquil river, the obnoxious cawing of a bird, and several scenes of wood chopping. It does possess some fresh and moody music by Johnny Hickman and a fine acting debut by David Lowery, both from the platinum-album recording group CRACKER. But unless you have actually killed your father, you're probably going to walk away from this one unmoved. -Laurie Lawson-
CHICAGO CAB A GFT Entertainment Film Released by Castle Hill Productions and Dream LLC Adapted from the play "Hellcab" by WILL KERN Directed by MARY CYBULSKI and JOHN TINTORI Produced by PAUL DILLON and SUZANNE DeWALT Screenwriter Will Kern used his personal experiences as a cabdriver on the streets of Chicago to write his award-winning play "Hellcab." From this emerged the film CHICAGO CAB, a humorous and poignant trip that follows a day in the life of a cab driver with some very strange passengers. Paul Dillon, who also portrayed the driver in the play, is a bit eccentric with subtle similarities to Christopher Lloyd's Reverend Jim character in the television series Taxi. He's lonely and socially inept but basically a guy trying to do the right thing. Into the back seat of his cab comes an array of characters that would plague anyone's day. John Cusack is a menacing oddball who demands transportation to a dark alley; Laurie Metcalf and her illicit lover have sex on the way to the hotel; an impertinent and promiscuous Gillian Anderson fights with her boyfriend; and a heart-wrenching Julianne Moore calmly accounts being brutally assaulted. What these and several other passengers reveal is how the cab driver becomes a small, short part of their lives. Their stories are abruptly interrupted and have no conclusion; then he moves on to another. He empathizes but usually cannot influence or alter the outcome. The camera shots are close and tight, depicting the physical proximity of driver and passenger. Within that small space, he is subjected to prejudices and passions, threats and propositions, and a plethora of emotions. Those looking for a plot or solutions to the problems of mankind will be disappointed. What you get instead is a glimpse into a profession that randomly encounters all kinds of people; CHICAGO CAB is a fine slice-of-life film. -Laurie Lawson-
LITTLE BOY BLUE A Film by ANTONIO TIBALDI Starring RYAN PHILLIPPE NASTASSJA KINSKI JOHN SAVAGE SHIRLEY KNIGHT Director: ANTONIO TIBALDI Writer: MICHAEL BOSTON Cinematographer: RON HAGEN, A.C.S. Production Designer: JOHN FRICK Editors: ANTONIO TIBALDI and TOBIN TAYLOR Music Composer: STEWART COPELAND Music Supervisor: FRANK FITZPATRICK Costume Designer: APRIL FERRY LITTLE BOY BLUE is a dark film about love, perversion, criminality, revenge, and survival against all odds.It is also one of the most bizarre stories ever. Jimmy (Ryan Phillippe of I Know What You Did Last Summer fame) is a nineteen year old with a promising baseball pitch and a girlfriend named Traci (Jenny Lewis). And these are the only rays of hope in poor Jimmy's life. His father Ray, a former Vietnam veteran tautly portrayed by John Savage, is sadistic and prone to violence. His mother (Nastassja Kinski) is not immune from Ray's abuse, but the ties that bind them are deep rooted. Jimmy also has two younger brothers (marvelously portrayed by Devon Michael and Adam Burke) who have learned how to survive in this unhealthy environment. Into their already-turbulent lives comes a woman (Shirley Knight) from the past hell-bent on revenging years of suffering. LITTLE BOY BLUE is raw and gritty, as stark as the dilapidated trailer that houses the family's sordid secrets. Antonio Tibaldi keeps the tension level high. Nothing is as it seems, and at every turn there is a surprise that challenges your credibility. But as the story twists and turns, you absorb the latest revelation and anxiously await the next. There's not an ounce of predictability in this one; its debauchery at its best. -Laurie Lawson-
CARLA'S SONG Directed by KEN LOACH A Channel Four Films Presentation Released by Shadow Distribution May 15, 1998 Starring ROBERT CARLYLE, OYANKA CABEZAS and SCOTT GLENN Screenplay by PAUL LAVERTY Produced by SALLY HIBBIN Director of Photography BARRY ACKROYD Composer GEORGE FENTON Carla's Song, set in 1987, traces the budding, unlikely love story of a Scottish bus driver and a Nicaraguan refugee. The action begins on a bus in Glasgow, as the unconventional driver, George (Robert Carlyle) comes to the aid of a mysterious passenger (Carla, played by Oyanka Cabezas) when she is caught without a ticket. Through a series of coincidences and persistent actions on George's part, the two become involved. Eventually, in an attempt to understand his troubled new love, George takes Carla back to her homeland. Here, amid the Contra's continuing assault on the Sandinistas, he comes to have a greater understanding of her life. George is the ultimate nice guy, taking on what is an obviously complicated situation when he befriends Carla. The premise here, while bordering on the implausible, seems completely credible and reasonable as it evolves in Carla's Song. Robert Carlyle gives George life, and his actions seem credible. Oyanka Cabezas' performance is compelling and appropriately restrained. The supporting cast is good. Although, Scott Glenn as an ex-C.I.A.officer now supporting the Sandinistas is in the unfortunate position of having to deliver the only quasi-p.c. dialogue in the script. He acts as the vehicle by which the politics of the war are explained, which, while a necessary exposition, could have been executed better. This is an interesting story that covers new ground. A minor difficulty for speakers of American English will be the Scottish English prevalent in the first half of the film. Although distracting, the action is clear enough to make a word for word comprehension of the dialogue unnecessary. Carla's Song is a love story that moves in unlikely directions, and a film that traces a difficult journey. Sometimes endearing, sometimes tragic and horrifying, it is never bludgeoning. Political, yes, but there is a legitimate context in the form of a well-crafted tale of the human spirit and what it can endure to deliver the message. - Kessa De Santis -
Fox Lorber Features presents LIFE OF JESUS (LA VIE DE JESUS) A film by BRUNO DUMONT Bruno Dumont's LIFE OF JESUS (LA VIE DE JESUS) has picked up a few awards, including last year's Cannes Film Festival Winner of the Jean Vigo Prize for Best First Feature, the International Critic's Prize at the 1998 Chicago Film Festival, and the Official Selection at the New York Film Festival, before it opens at Cinema Village (22 East 12th Street) on May 15th. It is a stark and gritty film - in the first five minutes you witness tragedies in Rwanda via a television in a small bar, a friend dying of AIDS in a hospital, and an epileptic fit. Under Dumont's direction, Phillippe Van Leeuw's camera does not blink, and neither do you. Set in a small village in Northern France, Life of Jesus relentlessly follows the uninspiring lives of Freddy (David Douche), a 20-year-old prone to epilepsy, and his four friends. The boys are unemployed, minimally educated, spiritually deficient, and lacking in initiative. Their boredom is broken only by aimless trips on motor bikes, attempts to teach a soundless finch to sing, and perfunctory love making. Freddy's only passion is his girlfriend Marie (Marjorie Cottreel), but even that relationship lacks sensitivity. As the scenes flit from one scenario of tedious activity to another, you begin to feel the boys' restlessness and boredom. You find yourself wishing that one of them would take action to change their lives (indeed, you silently cheer as the young Arab Kader Chaatouf boldly pursues Marie), but because these characters are totally powerless over the events that influence them, the actions they do take are crude, insensitive, and eventually violent. Life of Jesus is a masterful study of youth bereft of choices, the resultant monotony and racism, and its violent response. It is a true portrayal of characters with long and uncomfortable closeups, silence, and subdued action - even the violent scene is short and passionless. Amazingly the effect is mesmerizing as you follow along with the act of living, no matter how random it may be. Dumont offers no promises of redemption or easy pat solutions; instead, he submits a chillingly realistic slice of life. -Laurie Lawson-
CHARACTER Directed by Mike van Diem Screenplay by Mike van Diem in cooperation with Laurens Geels and Ruud van Megan From Sony Pictures Classics, to be released March 27, 1998 Starring Fedja van Huet, Jan Decleir and Betty Schuurman Character is set in 1920's Rotterdam, but this dark tale could be set in any time or place and be as affecting. The story unfolds through flashbacks, gradually revealing the complex events that have led the central character, Katadreuffe (Fedja van Huet), to be arrested for the murder of the fearsome, dreaded bailiff, Dreverhaven (Jan Decleir). As Katadreuffe conveys his version of events to the police, which entails recounting the pivotal moments of his entire life, including his discovery that Dreverhaven is his father, the richness of Character emerges, right from the start. As the omnipresent Dreverhaven, Decleir uses his physicality to dramatic advantage. A large man, his brooding presence hints at the best and worst elements of his character, even when he is seemingly docile. As Katadreuffe, a man heavily burdened by the tenuousness of his situation, van Huet often looks distraught, but never overcome. As his mother, Joba, Betty Schuurman gives a subtle, nearly silent performance. Her very presence, complementing Dreverhaven's, speaks volumes although she says nothing at all. Joba's subtlety balances Dreverhaven's voracity. The effect is a compelling, well-acted film. Under Mike van Diem's direction, Character becomes a study of not only the characters in the story, but of the location. The look of the film sets a definite mood, an overall darkness, tempered for moments by hope, light and beauty, that is right in line with the subject matter. Character is a complex, intriguing tale, and definitely worth a look. - Kessa De Santis -
THE DRESS A Film by ALEX VAN WARMERDAM Director: ALEX VAN WARMERDAM Screenplay: ALEX VAN WARMERDAM Cinematography: MARC FELPERLAAN Costume Designer: LEONIE POLAK Original Score: VINCENT VAN WARMERDAM Opening: January 16, 1998 Running Time: 103 minutes Alex van Warmerdam's THE DRESS follows the escapades of a colorful swatch of material that changes hands (and bodies) many times in its short life. Perhaps even more colorful are his quirky characters. There's an aging housewife who does herself in with a bolt of lust, a young sexually frustrated housemaid who attracts sexually-perverted gentlemen, an innocent school girl who takes a fateful ride in the dress, a homeless woman, and a ticket collector who becomes possessed by the dress and all who wear it. Van Warmerdam keeps the pace going by constantly presenting preposterous situations and interweaving the catastrophes of the characters. The humor is zany and sophisticated. And he gives the dress a life of its own. Even after it is part of a cremation ceremony, it still lives on. Nudity, sexual encounters and battles, insanity, and tragedy are all a part of his delightful adventure. To blend these incongruent elements and manage to make the audience laugh is quite an impressive feat. THE DRESS has received the International Film Critics' Award at the Venice Film Festival and the Dutch Film Critic's Prize Best Dutch Film at the Netherlands Film Festival. This is a film worth seeing. -Laurie Lawson-