The end of an era: 10/05/39-07/21/10

July 21, 2010-Evening

On October 5, 1939, a beautiful Art Deco movie palace, designed by architect John J. Zink, was opening on 5904 York Road in the Govans section of Baltimore. On the marquee was the Spencer Tracy classic "Stanley and Livingston". On 7/21/10, the marquee spelled out yet another classic: "Star Wars-A New Hope". Then, after the last of the overflowing capacity crowd had left around 11:00 PM owner Tom Kiefaber, who, in 1977, had taken over the day-to-day operation of the theater which had been in his family since day one, finally closed the doors.

What had transpired for those 71 years will probably never be duplicated again. Baltimore, and the film world, has lost two true originals: "The Historic Senator Theater" (as the owner would proudly announce in person or on a pre-recorded message prior to each screening) and the passion & dedication of Tom Kiefaber. Oh, the show will go on, as renovations by the new proprietors will soon be underway. Hopefully the lobby's original terrazzo floors and striking art deco murals will remain untouched, as well as the back lit sunburst & the rainbow prisms on the ceiling. And, I can only hope and pray that the same care and diligence that Mr. Kiefaber put into every screening will be continued from here on out.

Tom took such tremendous pride in each presentation that in 2003, the Senator was selected to become the first venue to complete the Historic Cinema Certification Program offered by George Lucas' THX Ltd., the San-Rafael, California based company. You could always expect state of the art projection & sound systems to be presented on the massive 40 ft curved screen. Folks, there was a reason that the theater has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1989.

The Senator's glory can be viewed for all time on celluloid in films such as "Twelve Monkeys", "Diner", "Avalon", and John Water's "Cecil B. Demented". Several premiers have occurred there over the years, as well, for Baltimore location films "Ladder 49", "Runaway Bride", "Avalon". John Waters & Barry Levinson often chose The Senator to premier their works.

In 1999, Tom received a call from the Baltimore Little Italy neighborhood association who asked him to put in motion an idea to show movies on a space, which Tom later realized, was the perfect ratio of a 16mm movie screen. However, the only spot for a projector was from the apartment window of longtime Little Italy resident 89-year-old John Pente. John had been living in Little Italy since birth, and in that apartment, bought by his grandparents, since 1941. He was truly a legend in the neighborhood and he would do anything to bring the community together. As a result, a heavy Bauer projector was carried up three flights of stairs to John's bedroom, and The Little Italy Summer Outdoor Film Festival was born. Its notoriety spread nationwide. Coverage included The Today Show, the front page of The New York Times, & ABC's World News Tonight. A five-minute short was even produced that appeared regularly on Northwest Airline flights beginning in 2000. Four countries (including Italy, of course) sent their representative to inquire about the event. Tom even offered free popcorn to the attendees who brought their own folding chairs to the parking lot in front of John Pente's apartment. (Sadly, and ironically, John Pente, passed away at the age of 100 on July 26th, a mere 5 days after Tom's last day.)

Over the years, Mr. Kiefaber annually offered specially priced or free screenings of classic films, especially during the anniversary of the building's opening and surrounding the Christmas holidays.

In 1993, Tom presented the extraordinary 70mm documentary "Baraka" which was filmed by Ron Fricke in 24 countries on 6 continents. I was so moved by the work and presentation, that I came back multiple times during its run to see it on the magnificent screen at The Senator because I knew I would probably never ever see it the same way in any other theater. Shortly thereafter, Tom started celebrating Earth Day by offering to show it free each year. The event, coupled with a drum circle in the lobby before the show, was a mainstay of the community. I came back repeatedly-often bringing friends to witness one of the most amazing documentaries I've ever seen-the only way it should be seen: on the giant screen at The Senator. He and I often spoke of someday putting our money together to buy our own 70mm print of the doc.

Tom Kiefaber was honored in 2003 with the Business Leadership Award “in recognition of his tireless advocacy for historic, independent movie theaters".

Finally, I'd like to personally thank you, Tom, for you are the reason this column exists. In 2007, in response to an occasional Email to my mailing list buds in which I reviewed certain films I had seen, you suggested that I place my writings on the Internet. I took your advice and, because of it, I now share my thoughts with a multitude of readers. Thanks, Tom. I sincerely hope that whatever endeavor you undertake from here on out will bring total success into your life; and bring to you as much joy as you have brought to us moviegoers over these many years. You will be missed!


There is a group, The Friends of The Senator, who are dedicated to preserving the heritage of The Senator and are providing up-to-date news and information regarding this theater. Their site is:

Other sites worth noting:

The People's Theater at;

The Senator designated one of America's Top 10 Theatres! By: J. Rentilly Moving Pictures MagazineWinter 2008/2009 Click here

10 theaters doing it right: We tell you about the movie houses that make watching films a dreamBy Gilbert Cruz, Gregory Kirschling Entertainment Weekly Click here

The Senator's owner honored by Theatre Historical Society of AmericaSecond recipient in history of THSA's prestigious"Creating Theatre History" award Click here for a YouTube of award presentation

Places to see a classic cinemaUSA Today Posted 09/29/2003 Click here

Sidewalk block honoring the late Bruce Crockett,
creator of the Sidewalk Hall of Fame

A portion of the 100 blocks comprising The Sidewalk
Hall of Fame

The capacity crowd await the final show
Tom Kiefaber addresses the audience for the final time
The Millenium Falcon hovers over the concession stand
Theater manager Gayle Grove with Tom after the show
Tom gets knighted by a Star Wars Jedi Knight wannabe
The historic Senator Theater
The rotunda

The Senator Theater in 1948

RENTAL RECOMMENDATION: "Please Give" (*** 1/2-90 minutes)

Wednesday July 21, 2010 -Afternoon

Phew! After the mindless action flick from the night before it was a welcome relief to catch up on a film genre that is more to my liking. An easy, character-driven realistic comedy/drama from Nicole Holofcener, the talented indy director who has been directing nothing but critic favorites since 1996 with "Walking and Talking". Then, beginning in 2001, she added screenwriting to her directing credit for "Lovely and Amazing", followed by "Friends with Money" (which was the opening night movie at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival and, although not one of my favorites, it became her most financially successful move to date), and now the wonderful "Please Give" which was released last April. And, despite currently receiving meager box office results, I highly recommend putting this one on your list.

Catherine Keener (her 3rd film in a row with the director) gives yet another standout performance in the lead role (she's been quite busy this year appearing in "Cyrus" as well as "Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief"), with another competent veteran, Oliver Platt, as a married couple, Kate & Alex, who run a furniture shop populated with the belongings of dead people. Marty is the straightforward, happy-go-lucky partner who's in it for the bucks, while Keener seems to have a deep-rooted moral conscience in the buying and selling end of her business. She's also quite the philanthropist-even offering money (paper-not coins) to homeless and the not-so-homeless folks she happens upon on the streets of NY. (There's a funny scene involving a person in front of a restaurant that I won't spoil here.)

They live together with their teenage daughter, Abby (Sarah Steele), who's hell-bent on getting expensive designer blue jeans. They live next to the apartment occupied by the cantankerous aging Andra (Ann Guilbert-a wonderful character actor whom Woody Allen would envy). She's being looked after by her two visiting granddaughters, sisters Rebecca & Mary (Rebecca Hall, who appeared in Woody Allen's "Vicky Cristina Barcelona", & Amanda Peet, respectively). The timid, caring Rebecca is a radiology tech while narcissistic Mary works at a spa giving massages and facials.

Meanwhile, Kate & Alex are doing so well in their business they plan to expand into Andra's pad as soon as she's left the planet. The plot is set in motion when they decide to finally get to know their neighbor by inviting Andra and her granddaughters over for dinner to celebrate Andra's birthday.

The character development and interactions that ensue take a little while to get going, but once in motion, the story takes off and you'll find yourself thoroughly involved as the director delivers on many levels. The script subtly & humorously raises your consciousness as to what is most important in life and relationships without being judgmental & preachy-all of which adds Nicole Holofcener to the growing list of insightful writers/directors working in today's cinema. A wonderful film!

The DVD release is scheduled for July 29th.

Abby (Sarah Steele) & her mom (Catherine Keener)

Alex (Oliver Platt) trying to make a sale
Rebecca (Rebecca Hall) (l) & Mary (Amanda Peet)

"Salt" (***-99 minutes)

Tuesday July 20, 2010

The movie career of Australian director Philip Noyce started with a bang: 1989's brilliant high seas thriller "Dead Calm" starring Sam Neill, Billy Zane, and a very young nubile 21 year old newcomer named Nicole Kidman playing a person being stalked by a mass murderer on a sailboat (rent it!). Noyce went on to film another wonderful Aussie film, "Rabbit-Proof Fence" in 2002 and a couple of high powered Hollywood films based on Tom Clancy's spy novels, "Patriot Games" & "A Clear and Present Danger".

In "Salt" Noyce combines the heroic femme fatale theme with the spy genre to give us, yet another, James Bondish, totally outlandish, action film that seems to be a requisite of the majority of summer flicks year after year. (Nice to see strong willed female roles abounding lately; namely, Lizbeth, the gal with that dragon tattoo, & now Evelyn Salt). This time around we have the charismatic Angelina Jolie doing the honors as the focus of a plot that never quite reveals who she is or whom she is working for until the end of the final reel.

Let me say up front, I'm not a huge fan of these bombastic, leave your brain at the front door, popcorn movies. But I have to hand it to Noyce, the guy can direct action sequences with the best of them. And, although the plot is never fully revealed until the end, you actually won't care because the presence of Jolie is so mesmerizing that the superhuman stunts she performs, with no let up, keeps you interested in the game nonetheless.

The film opens with Jolie as Evelyn Salt being tortured unmercifully by North Koreans who suspect she is a spy. Her life/torturing are sparred when she becomes involved in a prisoner swap. Advance 2 years later and she is about to celebrate her 2 year anniversary with her husband, a German (August Diehl), who happened to be involved with freeing her in North Korea. She is working as an undercover CIA operative in D.C. and, just as she is about to leave work to celebrate, a Russian defector (Daniel Olbrychski) shows up that sets in motion enough chase sequences and plot twists for two films.

Liev Schreiber, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Andre Braugher offer pedestrian supporting roles, and, once again, you'll be bombarded by an aggressive in-your-face (ear?) soundtrack, this time by the talented James Newton Howard. The good news is the music here is more in the background than, say, in "Inception", and was definitely not as distracting. Also, the production values, as well as the editing by Stuard Baird and John Gilroy, are top notch.

Finally, if you are into the whole spy genre, you'll be pleased that Noyce pays particular homage to the Cold War 60's environment prevalent between the Russians & U.S. If you think this is preposterous in this day and age, remember that this film comes practically on the heels of headline that story a couple of weeks ago involving those Russian spies we just swapped. And, I love the '60's nod to the knife-in-the-shoe-wielding Russian female spy, Colonel Klebb, in "From Russia with Love".

So, suspend total belief at the door (anyone who has been in the middle of midday D.C traffic will still have their eyes rolling witnessing the chase scene a third of the way in as Jolie performs maneuvers that even Spiderman would envy), grab that popcorn, & sit back. And, although you'll be entertained, be prepared to have trouble remembering what the film was all about not too long after you leave the theater.
Evelyn Salt (Joie) about to use her home-made weapon

Ted Winter (Liev Schreiber), Peobody (Chiwetel Ejiofer)
& Salt (Jolie) about to interrogate the Russian defector

"Inception" (***-148 minutes)

Tuesday July 13, 2010

The most highly anticipated film of the summer (which, folks, let's be honest, that ain't saying much this year!) is also one of the most unique original films ever created. Director/screenwriter Christopher Nolan ("Memento"; "Insomnia";"The Dark Knight") had the idea knocking inside his head (dreams?) for about 10 years and the results are ingenious, spectacular, thought provoking, intriguing, entertaining, and yet, stupefying. If a film ever required multiple viewings this one is at the top of the list. And a bit of a warning: Do not, I repeat, DO NOT, walk into this one not prepared to give it your 100% attention. And if you need to make a bathroom run (please note the running time), you can forget about it. That being said, this is one amazing trip into the landscape of dreams-yours and everybody else's.

The basic premise: Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio successfully playing yet another character who is in constant anguish & angst) is a master of dream sharing &, therefore, is capable of stealing ideas from the minds of others-corporate mind thievery or espionage. An extractor, if you will. We quickly find out, also, that his wife is dead and that he's on the lam, internationally, unable to return to the U.S. to see his children-other than in his dreams.

He's given the opportunity to get into the U.S. safely by Saito (Ken Watanabe) who believes, by using his techniques, he can, instead of stealing an idea, implant an idea (inception) into a rival's dreams in order to change the course of his conscious actions when the rival's rich father dies. If Cobb agrees and ultimately succeeds, Saito knows enough people who can get him through customs and back to his children.

Got it? Well, that's the basic set-up. What follows next is the recruitment and placement of the "heist" team that will accomplish this task by entering/creating a dream within a dream within a dream. In other words, three levels down. The target? Robert Fischer Jr. (Cillian Murphy), who is about to inherit his father's empire. Saito intends to benefit if Fischer is convinced to split up his newly acquired energy empire. Still with me? Although the premise is straight forward, the execution not as much so. There is a lot of explanations as to time warping between levels (one level down, 5 minutes of dreaming becomes 1 hour-but 3 levels down, those 5 minutes turn into years); consequences of dying in your dream; how to wake up from the dreams; objects taken with you that can reveal whether you are in the real or dream state; etc. All the dialogue demands total attention and then some to piece together & make sense of the logic in Nolan's mind (hence my suggestion of repeated viewings).

The supporting cast is generally terrific but I had wished more time was available for richer character development. Joseph Gordon-Levitt (most recently starring in last year's terrific "500 Days of Summer") is Arthur, Cobb's point man and confidante; Tom Hardy is Eames, master of disguises; Yusef (Dileep Rio) is the chemist who is responsible for the strong sedatives needed for the operation; and, the weakest link in the group, Ellen Page (What?? Juno?!) is Ariadne, the young architect recruited to "build" the dream mazes in each of the levels. Playing Cob's deceased wife, Mal, is Academy Award winner Marion Cotillard ("La Vie En Rose") who provides the emotional thread that drives Cobb's motivations throughout. She tries to convince Cob to join her forever and ever in dreamland by constantly reappearing, uninvited, in all of his dreams. Not a good idea when you are three levels down and continually interfering with the mission. Competent cameos are provided by veterans Michael Caine and Tom Berenger.

For me, there are a couple of problems-the most annoying of which involves the soundtrack. There is no question that Hans Zimmer, who has composed scores for countless films and who has been nominated for 58 awards while winning 48 (including the AA for "Lion King"), is at the top of his game. However, for some reason, his music is placed incessantly throughout almost every frame-often rivaling and practically drowning out the dialogue. It eventually became, for me, an unwanted character. In a film requiring total concentration, this was a huge distraction. Also, the decision to make each dream sequence an individual action movie in itself seems preposterous (mine do have quiet moments from time to time). However, it does succeed in sustaining one's interest. Sort of. The final reel involving a shootout in the mountains goes on way too long and I found myself practically zoning out. Cutting this one by 1/2 hour at least would have been my preference. Also, in the end, I didn't have the emotional connection I should have felt after spending so much time in dreamland.

During my initial visit to Sundance in January 1999, I happened upon The Treasure Mountain Inn on Main street-home of the alternative film festival in Park City-Slamdance. They were presenting the major award winners chosen the the night before. I hunkered down in a room with about 75 folding chairs for 4 consecutive screenings, one of which was a fabulous small black and white film entitled "Following" which had won the Cinematography Award (put that on your rental list-it is wonderful). Afterward, the blond haired English director conducted a Q&A for this, his first feature film made for a paltry $6,000.

Despite the minor flaws, how he put on screen ideas that originated right around the time I was sitting in that small room in Park City is pure genius. However, it will be interesting to see how widespread the appeal will be with the viewing audience. Although "Inception" is an action movie at heart, there all so many intellectually challenging convolutions to deal with, that, I fear, this film might be lost on a major segment of the target audience.

(from l to r) The heist gang: Yusef (Dileep Rio), Eames
(Thomas Hardy), Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt),
Dom (Leonardi DiCaprio), & Ariande (Ellen Page)
with Saito (Ken Watanabe)

Mal (Marion Cotillard) & Dom (Leonardo DiCaprio)
Share a quite mo
ment in dreamland

Shared dreaming demonstrated in Paris

Director/screenwriter Christopher Nolan


Monday July 12, 2010

"Solitary Man" (*** 1/2-90 minutes)-Producer/Director/actor Michael Douglas won an Academy Award playing a sleaze ball con artist in "Wall Street". In "Solitary Man", his performance ranks up there with his personification of Gordon Gekko. Douglas IS a solitary man and for good reason. The narcissism flows like lava from an active volcano engulfing and consuming everybody that comes into his path. Hell bent on personal destruction, we witness several days in the downfall of this dude who once had it all: great wife (Susan Sarandon), promising career as car salesman "Honest Ben Kalman", beautiful family-a man with so much charisma & charm that he is able to seduce anything his little heart desires. And that's the problem. The man has no heart for anyone but himself. Although I'm describing a very despicable dude, Douglas makes us pity him and that is the beauty of his acting. Directed by Brian Koppelman, who co-wrote the script with David Levien, this (subtle) comedy/drama has some terrific supporting roles including Mary-Louise Parker as his current girlfriend; Imogene Poots as her daughter who is accompanied by Douglas to her college-to-be (he knows the dean and mom has the flu); Jenna Fisher as Ben's daughter; Jesse Eisenberg as the college student who gets a few life lessons from Honest Ben; and Danny Divito, Ben's old college buddy who runs a campus greasy spoon. All are, in different ways, seduced by Ben who just can't seem to finally grown up and get it. A spot-on character study and tour-de-force by one of Hollywood's finest actors who keeps getting better and better with age. The DVD release is scheduled for September 7.

"City Island" (****-104 mintues)-This is one of my favorite films of the year. The audience award winner at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival (run by Robert DeNiro) is a wonderful human comedy that completely took me over with it's charm (hmmm-seems to be a running theme) about keeping secrets from those you love and dealing with the consequences. Andy Garcia gives a 4 star performance as Vince, the head of an Italian-American family whose members are each housing a secret. He's a prison guard who yeans to be an actor-so much so he secretly goes off every Wednesday to acting classes telling his wife (the wonderful Julianna Margulies-who previously paired up with Garcia in 2001's "The Man From Elysian Fields") he's playing poker. Not believing him, she secretly tries to start an affair with Tony (Steven Strait), a dude whom Vince rescues & brings home from prison after he recognizes him as the child he abandoned in a prior life. Of course, he keeps this fact a secret from Tony. Meanwhile, Vince's daughter (Dominik Garcio-Lorido) is visiting home from college-well, not really. She lost her scholarship & is trying to earn her way back in by working as a stripper. Teen-age son Vinnie (Ezra Miller) has a peculiar secret fetish: craving overweight females eating in their kitchen in front of a web-cam. And even the secrets have secrets: Vince's assignment in acting class (headed by the always winning Alan Arkin) is to share a secret with a fellow student in preparation of voicing a monologue in front of the class. He's paired with Emily Mortimer who, not surprisingly, has a secret of her own. Director/screenwriter Raymond De Felitta keeps the clever screenplay moving along at a brisk humorous pace and utilizes a brilliant score by Kim Oler and lyricist Allison Hubbard that is perfectly suited for the visuals. The pace and charm of the film reminded me of the wonderful Canadian film "Seducing Dr. Lewis" which won the 2004 Sundance Audience Award. (You should put that one your list as well.) "City Island" (which refers to the seaport community in the Bronx) is being released on DVD on August 31.

"The Secret in Their Eyes (El Secreto de Sus Ojos)" (****-156 minutes)-This year's Foreign Language Academy Award winner is, quite simply, a masterpiece. I was a bit miffed when "Sin Nombre" wasn't even nominated (an equally brilliant film), but, having seen this one, my feelings have been tempered. Director/screenwriter Juan José Campanella has crafted an intricate narrative that cuts back and forth over 25 years with 2 themes at its core: a senseless rape & murder of a young beautiful newlywed and an unrequited relationship between an attractive successful judge (Soledad Villamil) and her investigator (Ricardo Darin) who secretly loves her. The story, centered in Buenos Aires, begins in 2000 as the investigator, Benjamin, now retired and still haunted by the case, is struggling to write his memoirs about the crime. After he takes the manuscript to his former boss, Irene, for her critique, each story line begins its meticulous journey allowing you to savor, like fine wine, the beautiful tapestry of the plot. Campanella has populated the story with wonderful supporting characters-especially Guillermo Francella as Sandoval, Benjamin's alcoholic assistant who plays a prominent role in investigation, and Pablo Rago as Morales, the widower who spends his days waiting to spot the murderer in a train station. In addition, there is a chase sequence in a soccer stadium that is astounding in its execution. However, the quiet reflective moments are just as powerful as the action sequences and, by the end, you'll agree with Roger Ebert's assessment that, " This is a real movie, the kind they literally don't make very much anymore". The DVD is currently available.

"The Girl Who Played With Fire" (***-129 minutes)

Sunday July 11, 2010

Wrapping up the 48th series of Cinema Sundays is the highly anticipated 2nd film in Stieg Larsson's best-selling trilogy. After the richly deserved phenomenal success of "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" (which has earned over $100 million worldwide), the advance screening drew a nearly sold out audience to The Charles (many of whom raised their hands when asked by moderator Jonathan Palevsky if they had read the book) and, although the film doesn't quite measure up to the first, the bottom line is it is worth seeing nonetheless.

Returning stars Noomi Rapace & Michael Nyqvist reprise their roles as the mysterious professional hacker Lizbeth Salander and investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist, respectively. When we left her at the conclusion of the first film, Lizbeth had left Sweden and relocated to a tropical paradise in "exile" for the past year after successfully transferring a considerable sum from her latest target's bank account.

Back in Sweden, Mikael is putting together a team of players investigating a sex-trafficking ring that has inundated Sweden's highest political and social echelons. Meanwhile, Lizbeth is forced to return to Sweden to remind her government-assigned guardian that he wasn't living up to the bargain she laid out in the first film. (I won't expound on this if you haven't seen the first installment. And, by all means, you don't want to miss seeing it on the big screen. Folks, there is a reason it is still playing in many U.S. theaters months after its release, including The Charles here in Baltimore!)

After arriving, she discovers that her fingerprints are on the gun that was used to murder 3 people, including said guardian. Knowing who is behind the killings (a major plot point that differs in the first when the mystery is not resolved until the end), she starts the process to try to clear herself by trying to lead the cops, & Mikael, to the rightful killers. She again works with Mikael-albeit from afar this time around, leaving clues for him so as not to reveal her whereabouts while in hiding. And, unfortunately, that is one of the problems I had with the 2nd installment: their chemistry together in the first, never has a chance to reignite in the latest.

Several blanks about Lizbeth's past are filled in through the use of flashbacks, and included are several, literally, kick-ass encounters involving a hulking James Bondish-type nemesis (Micke Sprietz) who has been born with an unusual malady: he can't feel pain. And the use of computer technology, a prominent "character" in "Dragon", is utilized but it is not the main focus of this one-another disappointing component for me. And, of course, the ending is open ended, allowing for the continuation in "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest" due to be released in October.

Although the leads are back, unfortunately, not the director. Daniel Alfredson, replaces Niels Arden Oplev for the last 2 films in the series, and here he has inserted, in my opinion, several Hollywood-type roll-your-eyes moments that were totally absent from the original. And if you haven't seen the first film or read the book, you might be somewhat lost for the first half hour trying to connect all of the dots while trying to keep up with action and characters that come in and out of the busy screenplay.

Despite these irritations, you will not be bored and the continued incredible presence of Rapace is worth the price of admission. She is certain to earn an Oscar nod.

The wonderful post-screening Q&A, led by Baltimore Magazine Managing Editor/Film Critic Max Weiss, was starkly different from the one following "Dragon". Where those who read the first book found little fault with the first film, despite its translation of over 800 printed pages(!), this audience did voice problems with this version.

The totally unnecessary Americanized version of "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" is being made next year and due to be released in 2012 with the great David Fincher ("The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"; "Zodiac") directing English actors (are you sitting down?!) Carey Mulligan ("An Education") and ex-Bond Daniel Craig. Thus proving, once again, the trouble Hollywood has coming up with original ideas, feeding upon brilliant works originating in a foreign land. Don't get me started!

Noomi Rapace returns as Lizbeth, the girl with the dragon

Michael Nyqvist returns as journalist Mikael Blomkvist

Micke Spreitz as the formidable villain enforcer

The nearly sold-out crowd at The Charles,
home of Cinema Sundays, anticipates the
next film in the trilogy

Baltimore Magazine Managing Editor/Film Critic
Max Weiss looks on as WBJC program director/
CSC host Jonathan Palevsky addresses the
audience prior to the screening


One of the best films of the year. that screened at this year's Maryland Film Festival, opens at The Landmark (it already opened in D.C.). Here was my earlier review:

"Cyrus" (*** 1/2-92 minutes)-One of the best proponents of mumblecore, an American independent film movement that began in the early 2000's and noted for one-take improvised scripts, are the Duplass brothers Mark & Jay. Their initial film, "The Puffy Chair", was one of my favorites at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival. The brothers are going more and more big time. Their latest is produced by Ridley & Tony Scott and stars some great Hollywood A-list talent for a film that, I predict, will produce some acting nominations come Oscar time. Lovable loser John (John C. Reilly in a breakout role) is down in the dumps when he finds out that his ex-wife (Catherine Keener), who previously dumped him 7 years ago, is about to wed. After she convinces him to attend a party to try and meet a new lady, it starts disastrously when he proceeds to get disgustingly drunk. However, Molly (the wonderful Marisa Tomei), somehow, sees a sensitive soul who has lost his way and before too long they actually connect that night and begin a relationship. However, when Molly repeatedly and mysteriously leaves his pad in the middle of the night, John gets suspicious and decides to follow her home one night. Falling asleep in his car, he awakens the next day to inadvertently meets her peculiar son Cyrus (Jonah Hill who is sure to be nominated). I don't want to give too much away, but the script, acting, and execution of this wonderfully moving story is sure to put the Duplass brothers on the Hollywood map big-time. Great fun!