2 posts categorized "American Independent Cinema"

June 21, 2019


Ghost Light PosterAt a time when Hollywood has lost its mojo, low budget indie films such as “Ghost Light” come with simple theatrical pleasures that remind us there is a world of talented, inspired artists who have not fallen prey to America’s industrial Cinema complex of military indoctrination — see any superhero movie made in the last 15 years.

The long-observed stage curse incited by speaking the name of “The Scottish Play” aloud inside a theater, comes back to haunt a troop of actors performing a small town production of “Macbeth” in this cinematic amuse bouche. Whistling in a theater is another no-no that one of our irreverent actors is all too willing to test. Theatre superstitions are nothing to trifle with.

Although the writing could be stronger, “Ghost Light” has some shining moments thanks to the reliable scenery-chewing efforts of stage legend Carol Kane, and (surprisingly) of Shannyn Sossamon in her Lady Macbeth incarnation. Carey Elwes manages to mask his less-than-impressive acting abilities in the context of an amateur stage production of one of Shakespeare’s most admired plays.

The film’s play-within-a-play narrative landscape allows for sufficient suspense to build even if the movie comes to an anti-climactic finish.

Ghost Light

The ghost light of the film’s title refers to a stage light that must remain lit on an empty stage if a production is to be successful. It’s a metaphor befitting our current filmic wasteland. It takes films such as “Ghost Light” to maintain a glow of hope that one day American Cinema will be reborn. In the meantime, Shakespeare’s plays remain a wellspring of material to rinse out Hollywood’s static noise. “Ghost Light” is good, clean (if a little bloody) fun. For Hollywood, it’s back to the woodshed.

Not Rated. 102 mins. (B-)

Three Stars

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June 16, 2017


Return-of-the-secaucus-7In 1980, four years before “The Big Chill” addressed baby boomers crossing over into middle age ennui for mainstream (read Hollywood) audiences, John Sayles created the subject’s wryly indelible mold with an independent ferocity inspired by John Cassavetes’ daring approach to cinematic truth.

Born of lower and middle-class New England families, seven (optimistic but seasoned) friends reunite for a weekend of hanging out, skinny dipping, singing songs, and peeking into the uncertain future staring them in the face. They talk, joke, hook up, and bare their souls to one another in refreshingly honest ways. This film is an exquisite time capsule of New Hampshire culture circa 1980. Dig the Tretorn tennis shoes.


Financed with money he made from writing B-movie scripts for Roger Corman, Sayles’s episodic storytelling breathes with lumpy authenticity. The reunion crew refer to themselves as the “Secaucus 7” (think “the Chicago Seven”) because of an arrest they endured in Secaucus, New Jersey on their way to a protest in Washington D.C. that they were thwarted from attending.


Rated R. 104 mins. (A-) (Four stars — out of five / no halves)

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