Special Report By Monica Sullivan
Indie Fest 2001 opened Wednesday, 1/10/01, with Standing On Fishes, which played better on paper than it did in reality. But in the indie world, there's always another movie trying to grab your attention, like "North Beach". It sounds okay on paper, with the hook of attractive scenery, but then you get the plot, hyped as "Trainspotting" meets "Dazed & Confused," when it's neither. The real North Beach is a wonderful place to live, fun & lively. The movie "North Beach" might as well be Davis or Woodland, which, with apologies to their respective Chamber of Commerces, are fairly dull places to live. What do folks do in THOSE places when there's often nothing to do? They go to bars and have affairs & talk about both ad nauseum. You don't have to live a dull life in North Beach, unless you are dull, which is what Casey Peterson as Tyler Morgan IS. Tyler spends a whole day in North Beach, smoking, drinking & trying to get his girlfriend Paige not to be mad at him anymore because he spent last night in bed with a Louisiana stripper. He stalks Paige on her first date with a Mr. Clean type & begs her to forgive him. The problem, according to Tyler's kindergarden logic, isn't the fact that he screwed up, but that North Beach is so small that everyone knows he screwed up & won't cut him some slack. Well, after four six-packs, what else would anyone think? "North Beach," which plays like everyone involved bussed in for second unit stuff & never spent another minute there, was written by Peterson & co-directed by Jed Mortenson & Richard Speight, Jr.
Next up: "Dropping Out." Would you-ahm-do ANYTHING to make a movie? You'd be amazed how many people would not. We call these people audiences. They watch as the vast minority of the population sell their souls for art & commerce. We call those people filmmakers, or, at Indie Fest 2001, independent filmmakers. Kent Osborne wanted to star in a movie he would write & his brother Mike would direct. Mike would also play a bit part & his two-year-old daughter Madison would play Kent's character as a baby boy. Famous people like Adam Arkin, John Stamos, Katey Sagal, Fred Willard & Jennifer Elise Cox would play assorted other roles in a cast rounded out by lesser known actors. The plot of Dropping Out?: Why doesn't Kent play a guy who wants to film himself committing suicide? This swell comedy concept goes on for almost two hours, so bring a pillow.
Citizen James is about the making of "The Angela Davis Story." Actually, I don't believe there's ever been a full-scale movie about Professor Angela Davis: is it because the resilient activist is still in the land of the living? Davis okayed the use of her name in the very funny Doug E. Doug's first feature as a writer/director, though, & she's portrayed sympathetically in the film-within-the-film by Renee, a lovely, brainy waitress who meets Doug as filmmaker James during her work shift. James assembles a rag tag production company from his Bed-Stuy neighborhood, ruffling a feather or two along the way. Doug plays it funny, sweet & simple, as he has throughout his first ten years in Hollywood. At a fraction of the budget for 1997's Disney re-make of "That Darn Cat," Doug has succeeded in making a far superior flick that is at least ten times funnier. "Citizen James" is shot in rugged black & white with no sex & no violence. In fact, James winces at the screen when he watches action sequences at the movies. For more on Indie Fest 2001, check out the web site at sfindie.com.
© 2001 - Monica Sullivan - Air Date: 1/10/01
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