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Black Cat, White Cat

OCTOBER FILMS

Black Cat, White Cat

Bosnian-born writer/director Emir Kusturica brings
us some long-awaited humor from the Balkans with this story about
a group of gyp­sies who live on the banks of the Danube River.
Grga Pitic and Zarije Destanov are octogenarian friends (and rivals)
who have had their fates yoked together once Matko Destanov, Grga’s
low-life son, engineers a train heist that goes awry. Double-crossed
into debt, Matko is obliged to force his son into an arranged marriage.
Grga and Zarije are recon­nected as their families and friends
cope with betrayals, lust, parties, death, some rousing gypsy music,
pigs, geese-and the pursuit of true love and true friendship.

PARAMOUNT CLASSICS

The Powder Keg

Veteran Yugoslav director Goran Paskaljevic’s latest
film concerns a cast of characters whose lives cross during the
dawn of an awakening political consciousness. They include: a former
Sarajevo professor who is too proud to work for the new refugee
mobsters and instead dri­ves a bus; a boxer who discovers the extent
to which his life has been a facade and seeks revenge on his best
friend in an act of desper­ate retaliation; a young woman who,
harassed during a bus hijacking, ends up safely in the arms of
her boyfriend, only to find their lovers’ quarrel has put them
into a dangerous situ­ation. These disparate voices connect one
evening in a story about the nature of guilt and responsibili­ty. The
Powder Keg
received a 10-minute standing ovation at the Venice
Film Festival and broke box-office records in both Sarajevo and
Belgrade, a rare moment of agree­ment between the two cities.

The Powder Keg

Get Real

Adapted from Patrick Wilde’s play "What’s Wrong
With Angry?," Get Real concerns the awkwardness of adolescence
seen through the trials of one gay teen’s coming out process. Says
director Simon Shore," The play showed what it was like to
be 16 years old, gay, and living in a provincial town, but by putting
it into a familiar context of everyone’s adoles­cence, Patrick
wrote a story that everyone could identify with:’ The picture focuses
on Steven Carter, an introspective student whose inner sexual desires
are about the high school jock, John Dixon. Carter’s only confidante
in such matters of the heart is Linda, the girl next door who is
on her 48th driving lesson in the hopes of one day getting her
way with driving instructor Bob. Steven’s best friend is Mark,
who is trying to win the attention of Wendy, the feisty new editor
of the school magazine. At the school commencement, where Steven
is to receive an award for his essay on "growing up as we
approach the new mil­lennium," the time for intrigue and evasion
has come to an end, and Steven must become the conscience of them
all.

Beefcake

STRAND

Beefcake

When Britain’s Channel 4 asked Writer/Director Thom
Fitzgerald (The Hanging Garden) to conjure a pic about gays
and muscles, he thought of one of the first magazines in the U.S.
to push the line over what was considered lewd photogra­phy in
the 1950s. Photographer Bob Mizer’s Physique Pictorial magazine
showed men in posing straps in fantasy layouts (sailors, gladiators,
wrestlers) and is tame by today’s standards. But Mizer went to
jail for obscenity before the laws were changed to allow erotic
male photography. In making the film, Fitzgerald chose to highlight
the sexual motives of those involved, and he injected a lighthearted,
campy feel along the way. "Mizer probably wouldn’t think of
his life as a Frankie and Annette movie," says Fitzgerald,
laughing. The Hollywood pool scenes weren’t easy to shoot, either,
since most of the film was made in Nova Scotia in the dead of win­ter.
Thank God for sound stages.

Head On

Head On

Following its impres­sive premiere at Cannes in 1998, Head
On
received nine Australian Film Institute Award norm­nations,
including: Best Picture, Best  Actor for Alex Dimitriades and
Best Director for Ana Kokkinos in her first feature. The picture
centers on the clash between old Greek family values and a young,
closeted gay man named Ari who makes an intense search for identity
while trying to retain his parents’ love and respect. Ari’s ability
to participate in the rituals of his Greek ancestry one moment,
while angrily rebelling against them the next, makes it clear
he’s caught between the mores of his close-knit family and the
liberating forces of end-of-the-mil­lennium Australian society.

WINSTAR CINEMA

On The Ropes

In her first feature-length documentary, director
Nanette Burstein enters a boxing gym in New York City’s Bedford-Stuyvesant
neigh­borhood. She tells four stories: three belong to boxers preparing
for a bout and another to their trainer, Harry Keitt. Each fighter
transcends the typical coach-athlete relation­ship. Tyrene is the
young female protégé; Noel is Keitt’s obligation­; George is the
elusive ticket to suc­cess he has been searching for. Along the
way to the big event, the 1997 Golden Gloves Tournament, the fighters
and their trainer must contend with school, drugs and court dates.
The filmmakers followed the four through a year of training in
what turned out to be a crucial time in their lives.

On the Ropes

LIONS GATE

All The Little Animals

At its simplest, says Producer/Director Jeremy Thomas, All
The Little Animals
is a battle between good and evil, a coming-of-age
movie in which an orphaned boy faces dispossession and death
at the hands of his stepfather. His escape from imprisonment,
his flight into the wild, and his eventual revenge are the stuff
of classical thriller and chase movies. The boy is hunted, and
in escaping and avenging himself, he becomes a man. In the 20
years since the novel upon which the film is based first appeared,
its themes have gained in relevance. "The growth of environ­mental
and animal rights issues in the past decade," explains Thomas,
has been paralleled by the rebirth of alterna­tive culture amongst
the younger generation, from the Travelers’ in Britain to the
grunge generation in the United States." All the Little
Animals
stars John Hurt and Christian Bale.

Earth

ZEITGEIST FILMS

Earth

Set in pre-partition India in 1947, Deepa Mehta’s
film centers on a genteel family caught amidst the deepening crisis
of Indian independence. As the British empire falls, Lenny, an
8-year-old Parsee girl, is playing with her attractive Hindu nanny
in a Lahore park. Lenny’s world is an entirely mixed one peopled
by her beloved nanny, Ayah, her precocious cousin, Adi, the genial
cook, the ice candy man and the masseur who invents oils made from
pearl dust and fish eggs. As violence encroaches and the family
retreats to its compound, Lenny and her relatives are spared from
the slaughter because they are deemed neutral. But a Muslim mob
arrives at their front gate and demands all the Hindu servants,
which includes Ayah. As for the production itself, since no co-produc­tion
treaty exists between India and Canada, Earth could not be recognized
as an official co-production, despite more than half the financing
and a majority of the key crewmembers being Canadian. Of shooting
a period piece in present-day Lahore, Mehra says `Just to dress
TV antennas became a mammoth task, let alone the hundreds of roof-top
water tanks. Gardens had to be designed and built and extensive
brickwork laid to create the look of 1947 Lahore.

FOX SEARCHLIGHT

Whiteboys

Whiteboys

Flip and his fellow teenage pals Trevor, James and
college-bound girlfriend, Sara, drink 40-ouncers, smoke Philly
blunts, cruise around in James’s truck and aspire to be gangsta
rappers. There’s just a few issues: These kids are white and they
live in Iowa. Then they meet Khalid, an upper class black kid recently
transplanted from Chicago. When Flip gets him out of a run-in with
the law, Khalid agrees to return the favor by tak­ing Flip to Chicago
so he can live out his gangsta dream. Directed by Marc Levin, whose
previous film, Slam, won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance
Film Festival, and the Camera D’Or at Cannes in 1998.

Man of the Century

Joe The King

With some of the best-known one-liners of the past
80 years, Man of the Century is good for a few chuckles.
An audience-pleasing mix of fan­tasy and physical comedy, the movie’s
one joke premise is that a guy named Johnny Twennies, living in
modern-day Manhattan and working as a reporter for the ghostly Sun-Telegram news­paper,
actually believes he’s living in the 1920s. Director Adam Abraham
shows a technical flair, but the film’s highlight is the spot-on
staccato delivery of lead Gibson Frazier. In stark black and white,
surrounded by a distinctly NewYork winter, Twennies gets to say
things like "Nobody’s gonna play me like a sucker, see?" and "Ya
gotta like the kid’s moxie"With a sur­prisingly original script
and strong perfor­mances all-around, this droll mixture of "Twilight
Zone" and slapstick should score with art house audiences
looking for some "good, clean fun." Don’t believe it?
Well, as Twennies would say, "Scram, ya ten cent glamour girl."

Joe The King

In his directorial debut, actor Frank Whaley’s picture
is set in an upstate NewYork town in the late 1970s. Fourteen-year-old
Joe Henry (Noah Fleiss) is a kid who feels the weight of the world
on his shoulders. His abusive father, Bob (Val Kilmer) hasn’t held
down a job in years, and is in debt to everyone in town, including
Joe’s teachers. With no allowance and perpetually clad in hand-me-downs,
Joe is forced to work illegally after school at a local greasy
spoon. He brings home a small paycheck as well as leftover food,
which he gives to his older brother. Joe’s mother, Theresa (Karen
Young) is seldom around. When she is, she shuts herself in her
room seeking emotional solace from her cherished collection of
Johnny Ray albums. Also stars Ethan Hawke, Camryn Manheim, Austin
Pendleton and John Leguizamo. MM

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