2 posts categorized "Independent Cinema"

June 21, 2019

GHOST LIGHT

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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May 05, 2018

PERMANENT VACATION

Permanent-VacationJim Jarmusch’s debut feature is an idiosyncratic if evocative character study of Allie (short for Aloysius), an outsider (played with vulnerable curiosity by Chris Parker). Allie has transitioned from being a latchkey loner as a kid to a Lower East Side drifter. Allie's mom rots away in a mental hospital. His personality is in flux. Allie doesn’t need more than the clothes on his back to float around on a philosophical vibe that is nothing if not independent. A yo-yo in his pocket represents a throwback to his childhood days. With his rockabilly haircut, stylish shirt, and a blazer this is one cool kid.

“You know, sometimes I think I should just live fast and die young. And go in a three-piece white suit like Charlie parker. Not bad huh?”

Permanent Vacation 1

Jarmusch captures Manhattan’s empty, rugged streets of the late ‘70s as an alien landscape where empty lives play out in poetic silence punctured by car horns or a lone saxophone. The film feels as though it’s in black and white although it’s in color.

Some might call “Permanent Vacation” a shaggy dog story for its wandering sense of anticlimactic narrative, but the film is much more than that. It makes you care about Allie, and the actor playing him, with an empathy that few films ever attain. When Allie takes a dishonest turn, we can't help but go along with his crime. Is this kid a dead-end loser, or is Allie destined for greatness? Will he ever establish his full voice? We can see the poetry in his dance moves, but how will that youthful expression ever find an outlet inside or outside of society?

Permanent Vacation 2

“Permanent Vacation” represents a state of mind and space that doesn’t exist anymore. Technology has wiped out the possibility for such introspection. So much is lost that can never be regained, or can it? Watching this movie is one of the few tunnels back to a time and place where you could think. It’s a groovy movie to think along to.        

Not rated. 75 mins. (A-) (Four stars — out of five / no halves)    

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