Love Walked In
Cowriter-director Juan Jose Campanella delves into film noir, throwing together a scheming piano player (Denis Leary), his seductive wife (Aitana Sanchez-Gijon), and their wealthy target (Terence Stamp). What a difference a cast makes: Timothy Hutton was approached to play the musician and, says Stamp, “I heard that Madonna wanted to play the girl.” (Feb. 20)
“It’s a very deep insight into a tiny moment in one woman’s mind,” explains title character Vanessa Redgrave. Adapted from Virginia Woolf’s 1925 novel and directed by Marleen Gorris (Antonia’s Line), the story unfolds on a single day — June 13, 1923. But it’s not a period piece, insists Redgrave, “because Virginia remains far more modern than a lot of people who are writing today.” (Feb. 20)
Moon Over Broadway
Granted intimate access to Carol Burnett and Co., husband-and-wife documentary makers D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus (who collaborated on 1993’s The War Room) followed the Broadway comedy Moon Over Buffalo from first rehearsal to opening night in 1995 — and on through the calamity of mixed reviews. “The deal was, after two initial weeks filming, we’d have to literally burn the negative if the actors didn’t like it,” says Pennebaker. Given the warts-and-all depiction of squabbles, frantic rewrites, fluffed lines, and malfunctioning scenery, it’s amazing nobody got out the blowtorch. (Feb. 18)
A triple-award winner at Sundance, this coming-of-age drama stars Brendan Sexton III (Welcome to the Dollhouse) as an adolescent Robin Hood in Manhattan’s East Village. Writer- director Morgan J. Freeman (not the actor) tailored the protagonist’s motives to Sexton’s left-wing politics. “The character’s name is Marcus Frederick,” Freeman says. “From Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.” (Feb. 13)
Bokeem Woodbine, Cynda Williams (One False Move), and Snoop Doggy Dogg star in a noirish thriller by first-time director Darin Scott that features everything from Rastafarian warlords to dead bodies in car trunks. Williams plays the film’s two female leads, “both of whom,” she says, “get into some very serious trouble.” (Feb. 27)
Diane Keaton and Sam Shepard star as a long-time couple in The Only Thrill. A young sculptor struggles with her art after the death of her lover in Alchemy. In Arresting Gena, a 16-year-old (Aesha Waks) gets turned on by a runaway (Summer Phoenix). First-time director Chris Smith explores the alienation of minimum-wage work in American Job. Stephen Rea is an Irish expatriate who becomes re-entangled with the IRA in The Break. The Delicate Art of the Rifle is a surreal account of the 1966 University of Texas sniper killings. Michael Paxton’s documentary, Ayn Rand: A Sense of Life, gets at the Atlas Shrugged author. And in Niagara, Niagara, two misfit lovers go on a quest for a rare doll (moved to March).