Based on the 20 minutes I sampled on video, this low-budget, sub-Tarantino crime caper from Canada is worth your time only if your expectations are down, dirty, mean, and lowin a word, modest. Michael Bafaro directed the script by Ivan Tylor; with Ben Ratner, John Cassini, Frank Cassini, Freddy Andreiuci, and Lori Triolo. (JR)
Larisa Oleynik plays a popular teenage girl forbidden to date until her shrewish older sister (Julia Stiles) finds a boyfriend; so she and her potential beau (Andrew Keegan) set about finding sis a match. Actually, this isn’t nearly as bad as it sounds; Karen McCullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith’s script has its witty moments, and some of the secondary characterssuch as Larry Miller as the father and Daryl Chill Mitchell as an irritable teacherare every bit as quirky as the leads. Gil Junger directed this 1999 Disney comedy derived from The Taming of the Shrew; though the connections are fairly loose, this is arguably closer to Shakespeare in its overall sense of character and even in its sprightly use of music than Shakespeare in Love. Others in the cast include Heath Ledger, Joseph-Gordon Levitt, and David Krumholtz. 97 min. (JR)
I haven’t seen Disney’s Doug, the Saturday-morning animated TV series about young teens, but judging from this feature-length spin-off, it combines ugly color combinations and crude animation with engaging characters and plot situations that speak to adolescents. The plot in this case is a goofy reworking of E.T. in which the Lucky Duck Lake monster becomes the kids’ secret pal and nasty adults try to rub it out. Uncharacteristically pithy at less than 80 minutes, the movie makes room for a romantic subplot that has its own charms, culminating in the memorable line, Skeeter Valentine, dance me! Directed by Maurice Joyce from a script by Ken Scarborough. (JR)
Homegirls: New Work by Chicago Women and Girls
Three of the nine works on this program are by friends, so I’m glad I like them as much as I do. Sohrab Shahid Saless: Far From Home, Mehrnaz Saeed-Vafa’s highly personal tribute and invaluable introduction to the seminal filmmaker who worked in Iran and Germany and died last summer in Chicago, mixes clips, commentary, and interviews to create a poetic, bittersweet statement about loss and exile. Vanalyne Green’s Saddle Sores: A Blue Western, about contracting herpes from a Wyoming cowboy, includes many film clips, photographs, printed titles, country-and-western favorites, conversations with friends, and confessions. It’s every bit as jokey and analytical as Green’s earlier video A Spy in the House That Ruth Built, about her sexual attraction to baseball players; but here the narration is much more self-accusing as it explores how she romanticized cowboys and let herself get herpes, and then had to deal with the shame–which makes the relentlessly bantering tone a lot more unsettling and challenging. Ann Marie Fleming’s Tiresias offers a short, hilarious version of Ovid with animated stick figures. I also liked Paula Froehle’s experimental Fever, which interrelates sound, text, and images in original and arresting ways, and Anne Northrup’s narrative And Everything Nice, a psychologically acute portrayal of a little girl’s alienation from her parents at the time of Watergate, exceptionally well acted by Jessica Carleton. All five works are meatier than 90 percent of the commercial releases I see, and though they’re less than ideally served by potpourri programs of this kind, big business has ruled that we usually can’t see them any other way. I could have done without the muzak score and sound-bite format of Judith McCray’s For My People: The Life and Writing of Margaret Walker, which tend to shortchange the writing for the sake of the life, but some of the power of Walker still comes across. The program is rounded out by three more gear shifts: Digest Before Swimming, an experimental video by Claudia Lozano-Albern; the animated Two Cats and a Girl Named Cindy by Cory Brown with Street Level Youth Media, and 60+, a brief musical documentary by Shawn Batey. This opening-night screening is preceded by a reception at 6, which costs $10, $8 for WIDC members, students, and seniors. HotHouse, Friday, March 19, 7:30, 773-281-4988.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): And Everything Nice film still.