Not to be confused with the 1959 Mamie Van Doren-Mel Torme exploitation item, this is an uneven first feature (1996) by independent filmmaker Jim McKay about the friendship of three rebellious high school seniors; it won the special jury prize at the 1996 Sundance film festival. McKay collaborated with his three stars (Lili Taylor, Anna Grace, and Bruklin Harris) and Denise Casano on the script, and there’s more good will toward the characters on display than insight. (JR)
To say that John L’Ecuyer’s lovely black-and-white 16-millimeter (1995) adaptation of an autobiographical story by Jim Carroll–playing at the Chicago Underground Film Fest–is incomparably better than the movie version of The Basketball Diaries isn’t saying very much. Better to say that it’s sweeter, warmer, sharper, and filled with more human understanding than Trainspotting as it deals with a similar portrait of friends going in and out of drug addiction, this time in the lower reaches of New York City. Atom Egoyan and Patricia Rozema served as executive producers, and the performances of Maurice Dean Witt as a crackhead who thinks that his wife and mother-in-law are casting voodoo spells on him and Callum Keith Rennie as the friend who tries to talk him through his fantasy are highly charismatic as well as letter perfect. Carroll, incidentally, likes this movie himself, and it isn’t hard to see why. Theater Building, 1225 W. Belmont, Saturday, August 17, 9:00, 866-8660.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Photo from Curtis’s Charm.
If you’re sick of kinky killers and English rip-offs of American genre movies, this terminally bleak and violent 1995 road movie may irritate the hell out of you–unless you’re as impressed as I was by Amanda Plummer’s performance as an impulsive lesbian murderer searching for her ex-lover and dragging along Saskia Reeves on her adventures. Just when I was about to give up on this shocker as the worst kind of deja vu, it unexpectedly reminded me of the fury of Flannery O’Connor and some of her craziest and most alienated characters–and roped me back in. Michael Winterbottom (Family) directed, fairly adroitly, from a script by Frank Cottrell Boyce. Music Box, Friday through Thursday, August 9 through 15.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Photo of two women from “Butterfly Kiss”.