FANDOR), MY AMERICA, the new work from Hal Hartley, is almost nothing like what you usually get from this man, one of America's premier independent filmmakers ever since his first full-length feature premiered in 1989 -- the same year, by the way, that Steven Soderbergh premiered his first full-length feature. While you could hardly find two more divergent career paths, for me it has long been Hartley who has kept the faith, so to speak -- even if some of his more recent films have failed to find much or nearly any audience. Still, Hartley (shown below) has maintained his "quirk," offering us many good films and one great one (Henry Fool), while Soderbergh bounces from independents to commercial blockbusters (or would-be) and back again with ease.
Center Stage in 2012. From those 50, these 20, I guess, were chosen to grace Hartley's 78-minute finished film. Since the left-out playwrights include the likes of Anna Deavere Smith and Christopher Durang, one can only marvel or worry at the process of selection.
Bekah Brunstetter's piece in which a Southern mom (two photos up) talks about food, death and the one percent; Dan Dietz's soldier's tale (above) of Afghanistan; and Kristen Greenidge's "Hit & Run" (below) -- are splendid little gems.
Kristine Nielsen, shown at bottom, plays a lady in pearls who tracks the decline of modern civilization back to a very odd and funny source, while Thomas Jay Ryan (below) essays a half-hidden fellow who tells us of fallen Presidents and asks if we are the cat, the mouse, or just "one of these assholes." Mr. Ryan is, as he often proves to be, funny perfection.
Polly Pen and performed by Jeb Brown (below), about little Jimmy spinning in a baseball field.
Dinesh D'Souza and his America. The only piece here that D'Souza might cotton to is the first: Gyydion Suilebhan's monologue about a dad going all teary-eyed patriotic at a sports event.
Click here for specifics. (If you live in the NYC area, you can also see the film at a one-time screening at the IFC Center, this coming Wednesday evening, July 7, at 7pm, hosted by Hal Hartley and Fandor's Ted Hope.)