Abacus: Small Enough to Jail
A remarkable tale of immigrant success, wrapped around a crime story.
* This filmography is not intended to be a comprehensive list of this artist’s work. Instead it reflects the films this person has been involved with that have been reviewed on this site.
"About Cherry" (102 minutes) is available now on demand at IFC, iTunes, Amazon Instant and SundanceNow. Opens theatrically September 21, 2012 in New York.
After reading the synopsis for "About Cherry," I figured I had it pegged. Here's a movie about a fresh-faced, clean-cut American girl named Angelina who goes the photographic Full Monty before graduating to porn. "Oh brother," I thought. "Another cautionary tale." In American cinema, you just can't enjoy sex. There has to be some consequence for all the ejaculations of "oh god!" and "yes I said yes I will Yes." If you're a man, you tend to get off scot free. But a woman who enjoys the same activity might as well be struck by lightning onscreen. So I expected poor Angelina to run afoul of drugs, sexual abuse and possibly fatal violence. The press materials seemed to support my supposition: "But Angelina's newfound ideal lifestyle soon comes apart at the seams," it ominously states. I braced myself for the worst.
Eighteen-year old Angelina (Ashley Hinshaw) lives in Southern California with her younger sister (Maya Raines), her alcoholic mother (Lili Taylor) and Mama's latest man. Angelina yearns to escape her dismal home life, so with a little coaxing from her rock band boyfriend (Johnny Weston), she visits his photographer buddy Vaughn (Ernest Waddell). Vaughn shoots erotic photos, and Angelina is both erotic and photogenic. The photo shoot is such a rousing success that Weston demands Angelina avoid Vaughn for future shoots. Angelina dumps the rocker.
Marie writes: my friend Cheryl sent me the photo below, taken by an ex-coworker (Cheryl used to work for a Veterinarian.) The wolf's name is Alpha; one guess why. He's from the Grouse Mountain Wildlife Refuge in North Vancouver; not a zoo. The veterinary clinic is also located in North Vancouver and Alpha is having his regular dental check up and cleaning. (Click to enlarge.)
Lesson for the day: How to have fun while wasting time... Marie writes: welcome to DRAW A STICK MAN, a delightful Flash-based site prompting viewers to draw a simple stick figure which then comes to life! Ie: the program animates it. You're given instructions about what to draw and when, which your dude uses to interact with objects onscreen. Thanks go to club member Sandy Kahn who heard about it from her pal Lauren, in Portland Oregon.Note: here's a screen-cap of what I drew; I've named him Pumpkin Head.
From Robert Horton, film critic, The Herald, Everett, WA:
How technical do you want to get about "opening shot"? Is the opening shot literally the very first thing that appears onscreen? Or is it the first shot proper, the thing that tells the people behind you to stop talking and pay attention? In the 1931 "Dracula," the former is a wonderfully archaic credits plate with an art-deco bat, accompanied by a scratchy, mood-setting snippet of "Swan Lake" (without that bat and the music the movie that follows would somehow not be the same); the latter is the post-credits shot of a lusciously suggestive Transylvanian crossroads. Both count in "Dracula."
Most movies now begin with credits over a shot, making it hard to define the beginning-proper (and making it hard for the people behind you to know when to shut up already). The credits play over the opening shot of the 1981 film "Cutter's Way" (aka "Cutter and Bone"), a film very people have heard of, let alone seen, but which is nevertheless one of the key American films of the 1980s (a crucial film in connecting the post-sixties hangover and the corporate runamuck of the eighties).
The opening shot is dreamlike, stylized, drained of color—quite the opposite of the remainder of the film—and looks dead-center down a warm Santa Barbara street as an Old Spanish Days parade approaches the camera. It begins in black-and-white and bleeds slowly into color, and it's in slow motion; the odd music by the late great Jack Nitszche seems to be running in slow motion, too. A band marches, banners wave, and front and center is a blonde in a white dress, like a bride, dancing in the Fiesta. Nothing really unusual about a blonde in a small-city parade, but when you watch the movie, you realize that this might be the kind of pretty girl who could end up dropped in a dumpster on a side street in the middle of the night because she made a bad decision about which rich guy to blow.
The camera has watched this, panning finally to accommodate the blonde's sideways movement. The whole thing has the drowsy long-lens shimmer of midsummer. The blonde has gotten close enough to the camera to pass out of the frame, but as we peer at the people in the distance, now coming into focus, she abruptly passes by again—and as her white ruffled dress rustles by, the image in the background is wiped away and replaced by a whole new shot…if you like, the first shot proper of the story: an exterior, in the magic hour of dusk, of the outside of an unmistakably Southern California hotel.