HERALD TRIBUNE TEAM
THE COMPASSIONATE CONSERVATIVE
Once again, the Queen Mary will be transformed into the most gruesome collection of terrifying mazes anywhere for Shipwreck 2000, the 6th Annual Queen Mary Halloween Terror Fest.
Indie Director Shares his Room
By Fred Topel
A Room for Romeo Brass tells the story of two childhood friends tested when a violent stranger comes between them. This semi-autobiographical British film from writer/director Shane Meadows is now playing in limited release.
Meadows sat down with Herald Tribune Online to discuss the film over an energy drink as he recharged from a full day of publicity. With his head shaved to the scalp, Meadows physically looked like the stereotypical soccer hooligan, but those were Scottish, not British. He spoke enthusiastically about his craft and the messages of his film.
Herald Tribune: What is your film's statement about childhood?
Shane Meadows: Well, it's about two different stages of childhood: the fun element of being a kid and when this guy threatens to take that childhood from them. I spent months editing that and trying to get the feel so that people didn't anticipate that it was coming. As a kid, when things like that happened to me, they came without warning. In the same way, I had to be true to the film in that respect. A lot of film, whether they're British or American seem so golden hazed and they seem a bit fake to me. They don't actually examine what kids really feel and what they really go through. They're just about trying to get off on girls at parties without ever examining the absolute truth.
HT: Should we feel any sympathy for Morrell, the violent character?
SM: I think the place to be sympathetic for him is in no way the violence that he commits. But, he's the only person in the film that ends up with nothing, and to that end it's sad because he's actually changed their lives positively. I think they actually end up in a better place, obviously not the immediate five minutes afterwards, but I think it's brought the kids to a point where they appreciate each other and I think the families have been pushed to an extreme that actually brings them closer together. So, if there's any way to feel sorry for him, it's for the fact that he ends up with nothing and is in fact an incredibly lonely and quite sad person anyway.
HT: Which parts of the film are autobiographical?
SM: All of the violence. I was kidnapped when I was about 13 and held at knifepoint in a house for a day. The guy just let me go in the end. It was the most bizarre experience of my life. I'd started seeing this girl, my first girlfriend, and she had a much older ex-boyfriend and he was a f*cking nutcase. I come walking down the street one day and he jumped out of a car as I walked past and put a knife to my throat and took me to his house. He said he was going to kill me at some point in the day and he wasn't sure when we was going to do it.
HT: Wow, I thought the happy friendship scenes were the true ones.
SM: Well, both happened. It's virtually autobiographical.
HT: Are you Romeo or his friend?
HT: Was there a meaning to using a black actor for Romeo or was he just the best actor you found?
SM: He was just sensational. I always choose people as I find them.
HT: What is the purpose of Bob Hoskin's character?
SM: A lot of people for my previous film, [Twentyfourseven] are in this film. Most people pick up on Bob Hoskins because they know him. I wanted all the cameos to be people from the last film and he's just playing the really small part of a teacher that comes around to visit. It's not about trying to get a name in there. He's a friend now and he just came up and did it. People are bound to think because it's Bob, is there meant to be more to it? But it's not at all. I used a lot of people from the previous film, it's just he's the one that people will probably recognize.
HT: Why did you decide to show out-takes in the end? That's usually more for comedies.
SM: From my point of view, I had created a family atmosphere and these people were like my family at the time that I made it. The bottom line was filmmaking isn't a business to me. I really, really love working with those people so at the end it was just a chance to highlight them and they were just lighter moments really.
Some nights may sell out, so tickets may be purchased in advance at the Queen Mary Box Office or at Ticketmaster. Tickets will be available the nights of the event on a first come, first served basis.
The Queen Mary is a natural setting for this even during the Halloween season, as the legendary ship has long been rumored to be haunted. Through the years, Queen Mary employees, guests and even visiting psychics have reported unexplainable events and paranormal activity.
The six Shipwreck 2000 mazes lead visitors into the dank depths of the "Haunted Hull of Horror," "Decks of the Dead" and "Factory of Fear" aboard the ship, the evil "Londontowne of Terror" and "Marketplace of Madness" in the Queens Marketplace and the new structure at the stern of the ship that houses the all new "house of Hallucinations" that requires visitors to wear special 3-D glasses for the full effect. Those who dare enter will encounter hundreds of lively monsters and ghouls through the six mazes providing an endless night of terror!
Shipwreck 2000 is not recommended for children under 13 or the faint of heart. Costumes are not permitted, and guests enter at their own risk.
There is a per-car charge for parking, and on evenings when there are very heavy crowds, cars may be directed to convenient, off-site lots with free shuttle return to the Queen Mary.
The new Ghosts & Legends of the Queen Mary attraction, located in the lower decks at the bow of the ship, is included in Queen Mary general admission and open during regular daytime attraction operating hours. Shipwreck 2000 is a separate attraction from Ghosts & Legends and opens at 7 p.m. after the regular tours close at 6 p.m.
The historic Queen Mary is located at the south end of the 710 Long Beach Freeway, and features a 365-stateroom hotel, casual-to-elegant restaurants, unique shops and historic tours.
Painters Paula Bacinski and Marcia Burtt capture in oil on canvas the blue Pacific off the Santa Barbara Coast and inviting beaches begging for a stroll. Ruo Li and Calvin Liang record the ever changing yet constant tide, while Ray Roberts and Peter Adams focus on the way bright light from the setting sun plays on dark waters. In particular, artists Stephen Mirich and Eric Merrell depict the coves and cliffs of Palos Verdes, a treasure to preservationists.
Despite such diversity of style and perspective, each artist paints with common passionthe need to preserve the natural beauty of the Pacific and the California coastline.
The California Art Club Gallery features unique exhibitions by early and contemporary artists of the California Art Club. Each exhibition is based on a designated theme, and represents artists who are specifically selected according to their strengths in creating a body of work that best describes the theme. Gallery exhibitions are curated on a quarterly basis and introduce an entirely new group of artists for each exhibition. All works are available for sale, with proceeds benefiting the artist, the Old Mill Foundation, and the California Art Club.
By Fred Topel,
A new sitcom debuted on CBS Sunday, October 1. That's Life stars Heather Paige Kent, who audiences may remember as the striking dark-haired raven of Stark Raving Mad. Herald Tribune had a chance to talk with her about the new show, during which time she explained the show's premise and what it has to offer viewers.
Herald Tribune: Heather, what is That's Life about?
Heather Paige Kent: It's about a 32-year-old girl, me, who breaks up with her fiance of eight years to go back to college. They've had this plan to get married and combine incomes so she could go back to school, but at the wedding shower, he says to her basically, "I want you to stay home and have kids." And that doesn't fly.
HT: What is it like to play somebody ten years older?
HPK: You are my new best friend. But, she's actually one year older than me. I'm 31.
HT: Do you think young audiences will be able to relate to this show?
HPK: Absolutely. The great thing about the show is that there's a little bit of something for everyone. We have the older generation with Ellen and Paul and there's a bunch of older people in the luncheonette that's downstairs from the apartment. There's people my age, my girlfriends on the show and then there's the new kids that I meet at college. It's very multi-generational and these are working class people, so there's someone in this show that everyone can relate to.
HT: Is it more female oriented?
HPK: I don't think this is a female show. I think it's a family show. A female show to me would be more like Ally McBeal, although no. What's a female show? Sisters was a female show. Sex and the City is a female show. This is a family show. This is something for everyone.
HT: Sunday the 1st was the premiere, but what's your normal time slot?
HPK: We're [on at] eight o'clock on Saturday nights.
HT: Most people go out on Saturday nights. Why should we stay home or at least set the VCR for your show?
HPK: Because it's a good show. I know that when I was in college and high school we used to watch a show and then go out. So, my feeling is there's nothing on TV on Saturday night's to watch. Now there is. Now there's a reason to stay home and there's a reason to set your VCR.
HT: So, are you encouraging young people to go out even later than they already do so they can watch your show first?
HPK: Yes, I'm sure they're parents will really appreciate me saying that. But, you know what? If they're staying home, it's a great show to watch. If they're going out, set the VCR, the TIVO, the REPLAY and there you got it.
For more on That's Life visit the official CBS website.
By Fred Topel,
As Ben Stiller meets the parents and Sylvester Stallone gets Carter, a smaller film is opening in limited release. Two Family House stars The Sopranos' Michael Rispoli as Buddy Visalo, a man in 1950's Staten Island, N.Y. who buys a two-level home, hoping to turn it into a bar he can run while he lives upstairs. A romance with the former tenant and problems with his unsupportive wife, Estelle (Katherine Narducci) create the conflicts of the film.
At a press conference promoting the film's release, Rispoli discussed his thoughts on carrying a film as the star.
"You say 'carry the movie,'" Rispoli said "It's nice to hear it that way actually, because that's one of the obstacle an actor has to get over a little bit. [People] wonder just how much weight you can carry in a film depending on the part that you play, so I love the fact that people follow the story of Buddy and I'm playing Buddy. They buy the story, so I feel pretty proud of that. I'm very proud of the whole film."
Rispoli himself could relate to the story of a man trying to follow his dream. He faced his father's reservations when he decided to pursue acting full time.
"I say, 'Pop, I've only given 30% of myself to this," Rispoli explained. "'If I give 100% and I wash out, I promise you I won't waste my time with this anymore.' He died a year later and I had kind of gotten up to 50%. What he did see me do was go back to a class and start the beginnings of a theater company, and that was only a couple of months old. He didn't see a production from it. So, I was determined to give that 100% because now I was going to take over. I became the administrator to his estate, so now I'm running the family business and handling the estate, starting a theater company with my friends in the city a half hour away. That's when I started doing the 100%, because I didn't have any percentage to waste."
For Narducci, the challenge was to find some redemptive quality in her character, who is only shown trying to thwart her husband's success.
"When I read the script, I say to Ray, 'Why isn't there any scene with Buddy and Estelle showing some kind of affection or love for each other?' she said. "He didn't really give me an answer. He just said, 'No, it doesn't work that way and this is the way it is.' So, I said, 'This is where it's going to become tough for me.' I had to try to think of what my objective is, why am I doing this, and I had to justify why I was doing it. I had to have a positive reason because you have to love your character, and we all justify the wrong that we do in life.
"So, I said, 'The reason is because she does it because she loves him so much, she's afraid of change.' Estelle was kept like a little girl and she did not know any better. They were still sleeping in her room that she grew up in, in the same twin bed and they had to have sex quietly. She never really got a chance to grow up because this is the way her mother kept her. She knew that Buddy could be successful, and she felt that if she encouraged Buddy to become a singer or be successful in anyway,
she was just afraid of change and afraid of losing him. He's outgrowing her and she knew that. So, really it was all out of love."
De Felitta has high hopes for the film's appeal outside of New York based on it's performance at the Sundance Film Festival.
"The very first screening we had [in Sundance] wasn't in Park City," De Felitta said. "It was in Salt Lake City, which we all thought was sort of unfortunate and there wouldn't be anyone there. But there were a lot of people there and they were locals, so I thought we would die with this film. They really, really liked it. They responded very emotionally to the film and that told us something. If they get it, it's not about Italians and Staten Island and New York. It's about everything else."
Two Family House opened October 6. For more information, visit the official site.
By Fred Topel,
The holocaust documentary Into the Arms of Strangers is winning rave reviews in its limited release. Telling the story of Kindertransport children in Nazi Germany, the film blends survivor interviews, stock footage, music and narration to take the audience through the journey of children sent away from Germany into adopted families. Although they survived the holocaust, many never saw their real parents again.
It was a labor of love for producer Deborah Oppenheimer, whose own mother was a Kindertransport child. At the film's premiere on the Warner Brothers studio lot, Oppenheimer explained what went into making the film.
"I think I seriously started thinking about it 5 years ago, and it's taken about 2 ˝ years from the first interviews to completion," she said. "We dealt with a lot of the holocaust institutions around the world and we just called every Kindertransport survivor we heard of. Every time we heard about something we would make another phone call, and we shot over a three week period in England and in Germany and in Holland and in the United States. Prior to that we conducted some interviews on the east coast including one with a man who passed away five weeks after we interviewed him. Then we had a very, very lengthy editing process and here we are today with a finished film."
To direct the film, Oppenheimer chose Mark Harris, whose previous credit was another acclaimed holocaust documentary, The Long Way Home.
"I saw The Long Way Home just prior to its winning the Academy award and flipped for it," she said. "I thought it was a fabulous film, wonderful story well told, beautifully shot, beautifully edited and I felt I wanted to work with him."
Harris explained the aspects that sold him on the subject.
"I knew very little about the Kindertransport when I started," Harris said. "I had heard of it, but I didn't know any of the details. I started to do the research and found the story really compelling and fresh. It had not been told before. That's one of the reasons that I was drawn to it."
As for the interview subjects, Harris had certain criteria in mind for those he chose to represent the 10,000 Kindertransport children.
"You're looking for people who tell their stories dramatically, so one of the things that attracts you to that is the quality of the person," he said. "We utilized the Shoah Foundation tapes. The Shoah Foundation has interviewed 50,000 survivors of the Shoah, so we were able to draw on some of the research they had done in terms of tapes and you have an instinctive reaction to some of these people. We're interested in finding people who represent the various aspects of the story."
One such interview subject, Kurt Fuchel, attended the premiere and described the feelings his interview recalled in him.
"Some of the emotions came back, the emotion of my English family who when I went to France to join my parents I missed to a great degree," Fuchel said. "And the emotion also, perhaps more hidden because it's further in the past, of having left my parents and gone to another country, trying to learn a language and of course other kids making fun of your accent. I was very fortunate. My parents went out through Italy to the south of France and reached an area which was hospitable to refugees and they were hidden by some really wonderful people south of France and so survived."
Finally, Oppenheimer acknowledged the indirect contributions of a special man, the late Gerard Charig.
"Oh, Gerry Charig certainly was a significant person in my mother's life," she said. "I don't think he participated in the film [before he died], but he helped my mother with her reparations and restitutions."
Into the Arms of Strangers is now playing in select cities. For more information, visit the official site.
By Dean Edward
The Skulls (Universal Pictures) Starring Joshua Jackson, Craig T. Nelson, and William Peterson. Ludicrous Made-For-TV thriller that some clown at Universal thought would make a good theatrical release is two hours of wasted time. Law student Jackson (providing proof-positive that he should stay on the small screen, in supporting roles, until this whole Dawson's Creek thing blows over like 90210 finally did) looking to further his career, joins up with a secretive college service organization called The Skulls, where he is provided with a great new car, a sexy girlfriend, and a whole lotta trouble: turns out that they arent called The Skulls for nothing. The actors flounder with ridiculous dialogue and set pieces from other movies. Avoid it.
Snow Day (Paramount/Nickelodeon) Starring Chevy Chase, Jean Smart, and Chris Elliott. Cheerfully stupid comedy aimed squarely at less-discerning tykes (Id say ten and up) about a snow day in a small town, and the effect it has on its residents: a workaholic mom (Smart, much too good for the material, but sweet) who needs to reconnect with her child, a struggling weatherman (Chase, being, well, Chase) and the battle with the dreaded Snowplowman (Elliott, having fun) whose job it is to ensure that the kids get back to school. Lots of snowball fights, teen love, and random acts of moral lessons make for a good nights entertainment for you and the kids.
U-571 (Universal Pictures) Starring Matthew McConaughey, Bill Paxton, Harvey Keitel, Jon Bon Jovi, and David Keith. Im sorry, but I must confess: Matthew McConaughey makes me itch. I cant stand to hear him, watch him, anything. It doesnt matter if its a comedy (EdTV), drama (A Time to Kill) or action (this), I just cant stand the man. That being said, I still managed to enjoy U-571, a WWII thriller about a group of brave Americans that commandeer a damaged German submarine that contains a German coding machine that will help the Allies decipher German naval movements, only to find themselves trapped in hostile waters by both American and German fleets with no way to communicate who they are. Director Jonathon Mostow, who gave us the crackerjack Kurt Russell thriller Breakdown, builds the tension until you are almost as flustered as the cast. Sound plays a big part in this: get yourself hooked up for Surround sound and turn it up loud. Despite McConaughey, a great film, highly recommended.
Rules of Engagement (Paramount) Starring Tommy Lee Jones, Samuel L. Jackson, Bruce Greenwood, Blair Underwood. Lackluster courtroom drama centering on court martial of Jackson, whose attempt to rescue an American ambassador and his wife from angry protestors in Yemen resulted in three dead marines and eighty-three citizens. He is defended by alcoholic loser Jones, who needs to redeem himself in the eyes of the military, but Jackson is being set up to take a fall, and yada-yada. There is nothing here you havent seen before, including Jacksons angry speechmaking that seems lifted from the last five movies hes done (this is a man who cant say no to a script, no matter what its about; Sam Jackson, meet Sandra Bullock). This pretty much died at the box office, but it plays better on the small screen, like a special episode of The Peoples Court. For fans of the two stars.
But I'm a Cheerleader (Universal Pictures) Starring Natasha Lyonne, Clea Duvall, Cathy Moriarty and RuPaul. Dark comedy about teenager Lyonne being forced to attend an anti-lesbian training camp by her concerned parents after they decide she is heading down the wrong path (she listens to Melissa Etheridge and eats tofu, sure signs of lesbianism). The jokes on them, though, when she starts to fall in love with tomboy Duvall. Good performances from a hip cast (other players include Bud Cort and John Waters regular Mink Stole) but general mean-spiritedness becomes hard to take after a while, and a clever idea starts to seem like an overlong SNL skit. Lyonne, fresh from Slums of Beverly Hills and American Pie continues to build a repertoire of fully realized characters: shes three dimensional, even though everyone else is a cartoon. Worth seeing for her performance.
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