Tuesday, March 31, 2015

NED RIFLE: Hal Hartley's third and final part of the splendid "Henry Fool" trilogy opens

Despite all the acclaim (mine included) for Richard Linklater's 12-year project, Boyhood, and his three-part, follow-the-characters-through-the-decades "Before" series, not so much is made of the very interesting and decidedly off-kilter trilogy that now completes itself with the simultaneous theatrical and digital opening of NED RIFLE, the third part of the trilogy that began with the brilliant Henry Fool, continued with the not quite so fine Fay Grim, and now concludes -- at least, according to what its filmmaker, Hal Hartley, tells us -- with this new work.

This lack of critical acclaim may be because Hartley (at right) is even more "independent," loosey-goosey and out of the mainstream than is Linklater. His work over the decades (his full-length film debut was 1989's The Unbelievable Truth) has ranged pretty far afield, with Henry Fool being perhaps his most accessible and popular work -- and that is still nowhere near mainstream. Even when he's seemingly out to lunch (as with the oddball Girl From Monday), there's still plenty going on. I find Hartley's work worth watching, no matter what, and this is particularly evident in this fine trilogy.

It's been well over a decade since I revisited Henry Fool and maybe five years since Fay Grim (the eponymous characters for which the first and second film are named. Ned Rifle -- also eponymous -- turns out to be the son of the aforementioned pair, and this movie is his story.

As played again by Liam Aiken (two photos above), who has grown some since the second film -- these characters age realistically and believably from movie to movie -- Ned, with his mom in prison and his dad forever on the run, has been in some sort of witness-protection program, living as part of a very a church-going family, in which Dad (Hartley regular, Martin Donovan, above, right) is the local preacher.

Back again, too is Parker Posey (above) as Ned's mom, along with the driving force of the trilogy, Thomas Jay Ryan as dad Henry (below), who had too small a role in the middle movie. Also on board is the wonderful James Urbaniak (two photos below), reprising his role as Simon Grim.

From the start of Ned Rifle, we're besieged with god, prayer, terrorism, witness protection, and a plan for murder. Hatley's plot machinations are witty and smart, and his peculiar style of weighty-subjects-done-deadpan is exactly right. In this film, he takes in the modern world, including blogs, the web and credit-card tracking in ways that are humorous if not always completely believable. But he is after bigger game, and he often manages to catch it.

The filmmaker treats things we generally laugh at or pooh-pooh as worth at least considering honestly. His film is also full of fraught reunions executed in small, precise, dry and alternately funny and moving scenes. Ned Rifle builds in humor and suspense, and yes, there are a gun and a knife present -- both given their Chekhovian due.

New to this film, and so very good that she ought to become an immediate member of the Hartley acting stable, is Aubrey Plaza (above and below) who plays Susan Weber, a lady with connections to just about every other character in the film. Ms Plaza is near-perfection: the central figure in an array of characters that is indeed something to see.

The suspense, smiles and shocks build, and then -- suddenly it's all over. Too fast. I'd like to say More, please, but Hartley has told us there will be nothing further, at least so far as these characters are concerned. Too bad. For now, though, at least we have the joys of Ned Rifle. And while there is nothing here as amazing as that final scene in Henry Fool of running (toward or away, and does it even matter?), this final segment connects us so fully to that earlier film that we can only be thankful. (Grateful, too, for the wonderful music score -- by Hartley himself.)

Ned Rifle -- from Vimeo on Demand and running only 85 minutes (considerably shorter than the first two in this series) -- will open theatrically on Wednesday, April 1 in NYC (at the IFC Center) as well as via Vimeo On Demand. On Friday, April 3, the film will open in L.A. (at the CineFamily), San Francisco (at The Roxie), and Toronto (at The Royal), and then branch out on Friday April 10 to Boston/Cambridge (at The Brattle), Huntington, NY (at Cinema Arts Center), Seattle (at SIFF Center) and Portland, Oregon (at The Laurelhurst).  

Monday, March 30, 2015

CHEATIN' -- Adult animation thrives, off and on, in Bill Plympton's new infidelity-themed movie

Animator Bill Plympton is about as far as you can get from the bright, primary-colored, family-friendly, constant-action, all-special-effects-all-the-time animated movies that appear in theaters at a rate, these days, of maybe two to three per month. His new film, CHEATIN', is all about exactly that -- except that most of the infidelity here goes on in the fevered brain of our male protagonist, who, in the course of the first fifteen minutes of the film, has met, fallen in lust with, and abandoned his current girlfriend for the arms (and other body parts) of our heroine.

Mr. Plympton (shown at left), whose work I seem to favor in smaller rather than full-length doses, is great at animation that combines both the dark and the rapturous. His amazing and unbelievably numerous pencil lines (I'm thinking they're pencil, anyway) add such strangeness and style to his work. In this new film, a tall, entitled and quite fashionable young lady (below), shown from various angles -- all of them alluring and a little odd -- struts her way along, her face embedded in a book, passing men who seem to become immediately smitten by her. She is, as they say, a piece of work.

One of the things she struts by is a local carnival, to which its owner gives her ticket after ticket until she finally agrees to enter. Then -- don't ask why -- she decides to ride the bumper cars. Something less likely is hard to imagine. But it gives Plympton the chance to go wild with some beautifully animated action.

It also gives our gal the opportunity to meet that lunk of a guy (drawn impeccably weird, he is all biceps and chest but near-zero in the waist department) who soon becomes her new love.

But then -- it seems that hardly any time has passed -- the green-eyed monster raises its head via another young woman who has the hots for our guy. When he shows no interest in her, she conspires to make him think his own gal has been unfaithful. And, oh, the tsuris stirred up here!

The colors range from earth tones to what you might call dank pastel, and the hand-drawing goes from simple pencil lines to full-bore rapture. Mr. Plympton gives us a fire-starter, sex acts, a couple of hard-boiled eggs that look like nothing so much as a pair of gonads, and an ice-box opera complete with refrigerated chorus. Themes get repeated here, too: that earlier bumper car soon becomes one of milady's slippers. And finally there is a machine that offers transmigration-of-souls!

We get fantasy and reality, nice visual equivalents of loneliness and despair, and even a little music from Ravel's Bolero. And, unless I missed something, all of this is without a single line of dialog.  Instead, we're offered music and/or a lot of sound effects: grunting, groaning and the like. This is all both artistic and quite primal. And repetitious.

Even at 76 minutes, the movie's too long and too repetitive. For my taste, Plympton spends too much time on just about every one of his scenes -- until we get it, and then some. That's why I say that this particular animator is often better seen in smaller doses. There's a lot to like in Cheatin', but the actual content of the film does not nearly approach its running time. If unusual and creative animation is enough for you, however, this may very well be your ticket.

The movie opens this Friday, April 3, in New York City at the Village East Cinema. The following week it hits Chicago, and then 17 more locations in the weeks to come. You can view all playdates, with cities and theaters listed, by clicking here. On Tuesday, April 21, the film will have its digital premiere via Vimeo On Demand, for rental or sale.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

A fun blast from the past: Elijah Drenner's smart bio-doc appreciation, THAT GUY DICK MILLER

You know him -- even if you don't know you know him. I'm referring to actor Dick Miller, who will turn 87 come Christmas Day and who has made, according to his wife Lainie, more than 200 movies throughout his 60-year career (the IMBD gives him credit for a mere 175), begin-ning with Apache Woman -- in which the actor played bit roles as both a cowboy and an indian. Beat that for a dandy debut.

Writer/director Elijah Drenner (shown at right) clearly has a soft spot for American B movies from the eras in which Miller worked (and continues to work: this guy's redoubtable), and he has come up with a documentary that should prove loads of fun for anyone (like me) who already knows and loves Miller's work, as well as for neophytes ready to discover it. The guy has (and always did have) a great face. Good looking and with a great little body when he was younger, Miller was also such a solid, professional and talented actor that he could (and did) play every kind of role well -- from comics to heavies, bit parts to big parts to even playing the occasional leading man.

Watching the terrific assortment of clips from many of Miller's movies should make you want to see (and even re-see) them, so funny and juicy and miniscule-budget are so many of them. One of my favorites is Not of This Earth, which has perhaps the silliest space-alien monster in the history of films (I know, I know: the competition is fierce).

Drenner's movie alternates interviews (lots of 'em) with animation, archival footage and film clips to demonstrate his appreciation of and love for the Miller oeuvre. One of the most talked-about of these is Roger Corman's Bucket of Blood, but there are so many more that resonate, too. We hear all about the filming of various of these, especially The Terror, starring early Jack Nicholson along with late-period Boris Karloff -- the latter of whom, after completing one of Corman's low-budget, finish-'em-fast films, still owed the director three more days of work, so Corman built an entire nonsensical horror film around the actor. Hearing and seeing some of it here, complete with tell-all reminiscences is one crazy delight.

As many clips as we see from the 1950s through the 90s (the prime of Mr. Miller), we also spend a lot of time with him and his wife in present day (or nearly -- shown below) and hear what he feels and thinks about various topics. ("Today's actors are nice guys -- but they're not giants," he notes.)

We learn about Miller's love of portraiture (or maybe caricature). When he was a boy, Disney's people came to call, and he thought they wanted to hire him as an artist. When they told him, no, but as a child actor instead, he simply said, No thanks. A guy who evidently always went his own way, Miller is a man who might have been a much bigger star, had he played the game a little more typically. But then he wouldn't be Dick Miller.

We learn a lot about a later Corman-helmed venture, New World Pictures, that helped start directorial careers of quite a few semi-famous names, from Allan Arkush (above) to Joe Dante (front and center, below) to Paul Bartel, as well as hear from some of the New World acting stable like Mary Woronov.

We also learn the importance of the name and character, Walter Paisley and a certain pink jacket, and see our guy in classics like Little Shop of Horrors (originally titled The Passionate People Eater), The Howling and -- ah, yes -- Gremlins, with stops at movies that ought to have been better seen, such as Matinee (below, with Miller shown between John Sayles and John Goodman) and Explorers.

All told, this is one fine trip down memory lane, featuring a look at and appreciation of an actor who is clearly one-of-a-kind and memorably so. Thanks to Anthology Film Archives, That Guy Dick Miller -- distributed by IndieCan Entertainment, Canada, and running 91 minutes -- will be getting more than a week's run here in New York City, with Mr Miller in attendance with wife, Lainie, who will be here in person for opening weekend, Friday & Saturday, April 3 & 4. The opening night screening on Friday, April 3 will be hosted and moderated by Michael Gingold of Fangoria magazine, while director Elijah Drenner will present the screenings on Sunday & Monday, April 5 & 6. Click here for tickets/directions.

You will also be able to see some of these "classic" films, as AFA has scheduled quite the mini-festival of Miller's oeuvre. Here's the entire schedule, complete with AFA's comments regarding the films:

Roger Corman (shown above)
1959, 66 min, 35mm, b&w
In his most famous (and regrettably one of his very few) starring roles, Miller shines as Walter Paisley, an aspiring beatnik who stumbles on art-world success when he accidentally kills his landlady’s cat and, on a whim, covers it in clay. After passing the result off as a genuine sculpture he’s proclaimed an artistic genius. But soon he finds himself pursuing increasingly desperate and horrific means to produce new sculptures and maintain his artistic glory. A BUCKET OF BLOOD is an ingenious satire of counter-cultural pretension, and among the highpoints of Corman and Miller’s careers. Plus: Agnieszka Kurant THE CUTAWAYS 2013, 24 min, digital CUTAWAYS focuses on characters who ended up on the cutting-room floor. Produced in collaboration with the renowned film editor, Walter Murch, and starring Dick Miller, Charlotte Rampling, and Abe Vigoda in their original roles from PULP FICTION, VANISHING POINT and THE CONVERSATION, respectively, it stages a meeting of these phantom characters. –Fri, April 3 at 9:15 and Wed, April 8 at 9:00. DICK & LAINIE MILLER IN PERSON ON FRI, APRIL 3!

Roger Corman
1957, 61 min, 16mm, b&w
One of the earliest films in both Corman’s and Dick Miller’s filmographies, SORORITY GIRL is a scathingly brutal cheapie that traces the downward spiral of spoiled, sociopathic rich girl Sabra (Susan Cabot). Schooled in emotional stuntedness and inhumanity by her haughty, hateful mother, she wreaks havoc on her fellow sorority members at the University of Southern California, shamelessly exploiting and persecuting them. Typically for Corman, what would have been a cynical exploitation film in almost anyone else’s hands is, despite the conditions of its production, a blunt but remarkably perceptive portrait of a sociopath – though there’s bitchy fun to be had too! –Sat, April 4 at 5:00 and Sat, April 11 at 7:30. DICK & LAINIE MILLER IN PERSON ON SAT, APRIL 4!

Joe Dante
1984, 106 min, 35mm. With Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates, Corey Feldman, and Dick Miller.
Joe Dante’s GREMLINS was produced by Spielberg and became a huge hit, but it’s no E.T. True, its ‘hero,’ Gizmo the mogwai, is an adorable, wide-eyed, furry little creature of unknown origins (by way of Chinatown). But, given as a gift to our human protagonist Billy (Zach Galligan), Gizmo comes along with three rules: never expose it to bright light, never get it wet, and never, EVER feed it after midnight. Needless to say, rules (especially in horror movies) are made to be broken, and soon the placid town of Kingston Falls is overrun with murderous, anarchic, and not at all furry Gremlins, who lay a path of destruction which Dante delights in portraying. A bona fide 1980s popcorn-movie classic whose mischievous spirit and Looney Tunes-inspired havoc remain fresh thirty years later, GREMLINS is also graced with one of the best latter-day performances by Dick Miller, as Billy’s Gremlins-menaced neighbor Mr. Futterman. –Sat, April 4 at 9:15 and Fri, April 10 at 7:00. Join us on Sat, April 4 at 9:15 for an historic occasion: GREMLINS cast members Dick Miller, Zach Galligan, and Phoebe Cates will be here in person to present the screening! 

Roger Corman
1958, 66 min, 16mm, b&w
WAR OF THE SATELLITES attempts Kubrickian themes on a Bowery Boys budget. As humans prepare to leave their planet, an advanced alien race sends down an agent to replace the mild-mannered scientist in charge of the space project. Once again, rebellious youth saves the day, as the professor’s assistant (the irrepressible Dick Miller) sees through the deception and takes matters into his own hands. What differentiates Mr. Corman from more dedicated schlockmeisters like William Castle and Jess Franco is his almost unshakable sobriety. He seldom falls back on making fun of his material, preferring instead to play by the rules and with a straight face.” –Dave Kehr, NEW YORK TIMES –Sun, April 5 at 5:15 and Sat, April 11 at 9:00.

Joe Dante
1990, 106 min, 35mm.
With Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates, Corey Feldman, and Dick Miller.
Rare is a sequel that bests the original, but GREMLINS 2 manages to outsmart and undermine its blockbuster predecessor a hundred times over. A parable for our times (circa 1990), this improbable tale takes place in the towering Manhattan super-building of Clamp Enterprises, where poor furry Gizmo is being used as a guinea pig by gonzo billionaire Daniel Clamp (played with a Donald Trump-like zeal by the rubbery John Glover). Next thing you know Gizmo gets wet and, well, hell breaks loose. Luckily his pals Billy (Zach Galligan), Katie (Phoebe Cates) and Murray (Dick Miller, natch) are there to help save him and New York from the whacked-out antics of the deplorable, deadly Gremlins. Simultaneously a tribute to the great sight gags of Frank Tashlin and a riotous parody of disaster movies in the Irwin Allen mold, this great meta-film is 100% Joe Dante. –Sun, April 5 at 9:15 and Fri, April 10 at 9:15.

 Joe Dante & Allan Arkush
1976, 83 min, 35mm.
Print courtesy of the Joe Dante and Jon Davison Collection at the Academy Film Archive.
The directorial debut of both Joe Dante (THE HOWLING, GREMLINS) and Allan Arkush (ROCK ‘N’ ROLL HIGH SCHOOL), this deliriously entertaining pastiche of exploitation film tropes was the result of a bet between producer Jon Davison and Roger Corman that Davison could make the cheapest film yet created for Corman’s New World Pictures. Dante and Arkush pulled off this impressive feat by shooting on leftover short ends of raw stock and by freely incorporating footage from previous New World films, including NIGHT CALL NURSES, BIG BAD MAMA, and DEATH RACE 2000. Amongst its many references and homages to drive-in cinema classics, it includes a cameo by Dick Miller reprising his role as BUCKET OF BLOOD’s Walter Paisley! –Mon, April 6 at 9:00, Thurs, April 9 at 9:00, and Sun, April 12 at 7:00.

Joe Dante
1981, 91 min, 35mm. With Dee Wallace, Patrick Macnee, Dennis Dugan, Kevin McCarthy, John Carradine, and Slim Pickens.
A popular Los Angeles TV reporter is given doctor’s orders to visit a remote consciousness-raising retreat called ‘The Colony’ after a traumatic incident with a serial killer. The bizarre behavior of the residents begins to make sense once the reporter discovers that she is staying amidst a community of werewolves! THE HOWLING is not only a great werewolf movie, but also a witty and knowing commentary on the genre itself. "The film is as full of impressive werewolf transformation scenes as of social satire, which is no surprise given that the special effects were done by Rob Bottin (THE THING) and the screenplay was written by John Sayles.” –THE WEXNER CENTER –Tues, April 7 at 9:00 and Sun, April 12 at 9:00. 

Saturday, March 28, 2015

César-winning animation from France: Omond and Solotareff's WOLFY: The Incredible Secret

Want to see what award-winning French animation looks like? Then, for your own interest -- not to mention that of your pre-teen kids or grandkids --  take a look at WOLFY: THE INCREDIBLE SECRET (Loulou, l'incroyable secret), a film out just now on DVD, digital and VOD, that makes a nice low-key change from some of the multi-multi-million-dollar, uber-flashy animated stuff out of Hollywood. This one's got a lot of charm and creativity going for it, along with off-kilter animation that's fun to view.

I have to admit that my just-turning 10-year-old granddaughter left the room around halfway along, but my just-turning-seven grandson couldn't get enough of the film and pronounced it "really good" and one that he intended to view again. (I suspect that if the leading character, Wolfy, has been female rather than male, my grandkids' interest level would have reversed.) For my part, I found it enjoyable to sit back and watch the work of filmmakers Eric Omond (show above at extreme right) and Grégoire Solotareff, (shown standing, center right), while observing the manner in which the younger generation reacted to the film.

The movie takes on a little oddity from its beginning, as its two main characters (and fast friends) turn out to be a rabbit and a wolf (above). There's no explanation for how this happened -- they just grew up together --  but the movie's plot (along with that :"incredible secret" of the title) has to do with the "history" of Wolfy and his family, and exactly what kind of a wolf he really is.

Due to an bizarrely arranged meeting between wolf, rabbit and a strange bird that morphs into a fortune teller (above), our two friends set off on an adventure to a far-away kingdom where Wolfy's "family" resides.

What makes the movie fun for both generations is the animators' take on various animals and how they play into the tale. Everything from wolves to hedgehogs, moles, cats, dogs and more have their chance to shine (or not). The animation itself is flat line with wonderful colors and a lot of imagination given over to odd angles and charming exaggeration (note the rabbit's ears, just above and three photos above).

Though the threat of harm befalling our heroes is ever-present, this is not a deal-breaker (only once did my grandson scoot over closer to me on the couch at a particularly exciting moment: "You getting scared?" I asked, and he nodded, yes).  Instead the movie mostly keeps its thrills in check to its charms.

There are fine chases (one in the car, above, another throughout the castle), a odd kind of "love" interest (the femme fatale/fashionista fox, below), a reunion with someone long missing, and a budding romance.

Mostly, though, there's that economical animation -- full of smart and clever moments and scenic set-pieces. With a running time of only 80 minutes, Wolfy: The Incredible Secret -- relatively swift and very colorful -- should capture the attention of kids, while leaving their parents in pretty good spirits, too.

The film -- dubbed in English by an OK voice cast, so those kids don't have to read subtitles -- is available now from Random Media & Cinedigm -- on DVD, VOD and via Digital Media.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Fernando Coimbra's WOLF AT THE DOOR is a kidnapping tale that proves to be so much more

It begins with the disappearance of a young child from her local school -- enough to set any parent on edge and gasping. Clearly a set-up job, the kidnapping is of course something the police aim to learn more about swiftly and surely. From this perhaps less-than-original beginning, WOLF AT THE DOOR (O Lobo atrás da Porta is its Portuguese title), the new Brazilian film from Fernando Coimbra shifts instead to a tale of infidelity and obsession rather than the kidnap thriller we might expect. This proves all for the best because what we get is a shockingly intimate tale of narcissists in love and lust. Be prepared for a genuine dose of Fatal Attraction, rather than the crap we got from that ludicrous happy-ending movie of 1987.

One of the amazements of Coimbra's movie (the filmmaker is shown at right) is how everything -- along with our reactions to this -- changes so dramatically from what we imagine as the film's first few scenes fly by to what we're left with at its conclusion. It is safe to say that few films on this subject have been more effective -- or more disturbing. Although we initially respond as expected to the idea of a child being kidnapped, we soon find ourselves more interested in the film's three leading characters, the kidnapped girl's mother and father, and the pretty young woman who manages to come into the family, as well as between the parents.

Said to be (as is every third movie these days) based upon real events, Wolf at the Door -- as brilliantly written and directed by Coimbra, is so thoroughly attuned to the vagaries of lust and infidelity, as well as to the needs of an obsessive, narcissistic woman (and to those of her equally self-involved paramour) that we come to understand these people (the somewhat clueless, and also self-involved wife is the third wheel here) so very well that we race along with the movie, full steam ahead, until its unbearable yet utterly appropriate climax and denouement.

It is not that we can't or don't care for the child in question (a sweet Isabelle Ribas, two photos above). But in comparison to our understanding of the other three characters, we barely know the kid at all. This is a very smart, if risky, move on the filmmaker's part. But it pays spectacular dividends -- while raising, along the way, subjects such as the male prerogative and Brazilian police brutality.

The three leads are played spectacularly well by Milhem Cortaz (shown two photos above, as the husband), Fabiula Nascimento (above, as the wife), and especially by Leandra Leal (below, as the other woman). Ms Leal plays the character we come to understand best, and she gives a performance that would win every award in the book -- fierce, intelligent and so far beyond desperate and sad that there's hardly an apt compari-son -- were Brazilian movies seen more often throughout the world.

Coimbra's movie is very well thought-out and executed, with events such as the appearance of a gun brought to fruition in a manner that even Chekov might admire. Told mostly from the time of the kidnapping, then flashing back and pushing forward for the finale, everything clicks into place without seeming at all forced or mechanical. This is due to the filmmaker's and his cast's concentration of character above all. It pays off handsomely, horribly, memorably.

Wolf at the Door -- from Outsider Pictures and running 100 minutes -- opens tomorrow, Friday, March 27, in New York (the Village East Cinema) and Los Angeles (Laemmle's Music Hall 3) and in Columbus, Ohio (the Gateway Film Center) on April 24.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Dave Boyle's sun-kissed noir, MAN FROM RENO, shows us creativity put to dire and dreadful uses

What an odd one is MAN FROM RENO, the new film from Dave Boyle, and the first of his work that TrustMovies has seen. A sort of sun-dappled neo-noir in which our heroine, Aki, a Japanese writer of an internationally famous detective novel,  comes to San Francisco and gets embroiled in the kind of mystery that, initially at least, seems like an Asian example of a Nancy Drew tale (at one point  the California sheriff who's also investigating the case, refers to Aki as exactly that). The movie begins in one of those thick Frisco fogs, during which a car hits a pedestrian, and a mystery unravels.

In Boyle's movie, we begin by tracking both Aki (Ayako Fujitani, above) and that sheriff (Pepe Serna, below, right) as they work independently on things that will eventually flow into a single case that grows more bizarre (what's in the toilet) and deadly (after awhile the bodies start piling up).

There is also one hell of a major villain to contend with -- one who proves a complete sociopath without even a hint of caring or remorse.

One of Mr. Boyle's finest achievements (the filmmaker is shown at left) here may lie in making us imagine that all this is much more fun than it is dangerous, then pulling the rug out from under both his characters and us. He plays deftly and rather charmingly with movie conventions and characterizations until, somewhat in the same manner that effects our poor Aki, we're shocked, trapped and unable -- even unwilling -- to believe what just happened. And that's all I'm willing to say about plot machinations.

The filmmaker -- who both directed and co-wrote the film (with help from regular collaborators Joel Clark and Michael Lerman) -- evidently enjoys creating stories in films that make use of both American and Japanese actors in an American setting. More power to him -- especially if those films are as interesting and unusual as this one.

The performances are, to a man and woman, low-key and believable -- which helps create the ambience necessary for the quiet shock and awe that follows. Cinematography and editing are first-rate, as well. The movie probes the uses of creativity toward ends both good and evil, and in the process tackles the subject of plagiarism, as well.

It is great to see again Mr. Cerna (above), one of our favorites from back in the 1970s and 80s, and in a leading role, this time. Ms Fujitani is smart and lovely as Aki, and a special word must be said for Kazuki Kitamura (three photos above and just below), one gorgeous hunk who proves to be a lot more, too.

Man From Reno -- a certifiable original distributed by First Pond Entertainment and running a surprisingly fleet 111 minutes -- opens tomorrow, Friday, March 27, in New York City at the Regal E-Walk theater, and in the greater Los Angeles area at Laemmle's Playhouse 7 and Royal. In the weeks to come it will hit another dozen locations, on the dates, in the cities, and at the theaters listed below:
April 3 - Torrance, CA - AMC Rolling Hills 20 
April 3 - Irvine, CA - Edwards University Town Center 6 
April 10 - San Francisco, CA - Sundance Kabuki Theatre 
April 17 - Washington D.C. - Angelika Theatre 
April 17 - Chicago, IL - Facets  
April 17 - Portland, OR - Regal Fox Tower 10 
April 24 - Honolulu, HI - The Angelika 
April 24 - San Diego, CA - Digital Gym 
April 30 - Seattle, WA - Northwest Film Forum 
May 1 - Lowell, MA - The Luna Theatre  
May 8 -  Amherst, NY - The Screening Room 
May 22 - Columbus, OH - Gateway Film Center