3/3/10

CITY ISLAND: X-17 (or is it 16?) PLUS A ROBERT WISE PAUSE



Here's a nifty story on celebrity "spawn"--kids of famous actors who are becoming or have become well known in their own right. And guess who leads the pack? Yep--our lovely Dominik Garcia-Lorido. This piece comes complete with trailer--a very nice way to spread the word as we move into the crucial final weeks of promotion before the movie opens on 3/19.



Speaking of crucial...have you considered e-mailing this blog to a dear friend or sworn enemy today? Every little bit helps.

I've been doing screening q&a's every night this week--Monday night the movie was screened for the Producers Guild at IFC in downtown Manhattan, last night for a class from the School of Visual Arts. Tonight I head out to Westchester to speak to a group that's headed by Marshall Fine, a very good film historian who wrote a terrific book on Sam Peckinpah called "Bloody Sam".

Last nights discussion was moderated by Ralph Applebaum, with whom I share an interesting personal connection. Ralph was mentored early in his career in film by the great director Robert Wise ("West Side Story", "I Want To Live") and spent some time working with him on the set of "Audrey Rose" in 1977...which happened to have been written by my father (it was based on his novel of the same name).

robertwiseNow, through having made this film, my family became close with Bob Wise (pictured above directing Natalie Wood) and he became something of a mentor to me as well. More than something. A wonderful man to learn filmmaking from--and to learn an attitude of how to approach the difficult business of filmmaking in a sane and refreshingly enthusiastic way. Anyway, Ralph and I had a drink afterward and spoke of Bob (who passed away a few years ago) with real affection. We talked about his films as well and I said that my favorite set-piece from any of his films was the "America" number from "West Side Story".

When I got home, guess what was on TV? Of course: "West Side Story". I won't make too much of this conincidence...oh, hell, why shouldn't I? What are the chances of these things happening? Hi Bob. Thanks for checking in from wherever you are.



Day Nine of our shoot was an eleven am call and contained two scenes that were shot but cut from the finished film--both short and not worth worrying much about...but you can imagine how frustrating it is to work on a tight schedule and be convinced that everything you're shooting is an absolute necessity, only to discover how much time you've wasted on stuff you don't need once you cut the film. In this case, we eliminated a scene of Julianna watching Steven Strait from the upstairs window of the house (Sc.109 shot during daylight)...and Ezra and Steven bumping into each other in the hallway and uncomfortably getting out of each others way (Sc. 79, shot in the evening).

Since we're once again clip-free from these scenes, I thought we might instead watch "America" from "West Side Story". Click below and settle in for a few minutes that will knock you on your ass--high octane musical filmmaking of the highest order. Cheers to you, Bob...you were much on our minds last night.



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3 comments:

  1. Any chance we'll get to see deleted scenes when the movie comes out on DVD? I'd love to see any and all footage that you didn't use!

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  2. variety| 3/23/2010 7:12 P.M. Directed, written by Raymond de Felitta.
    Raymond de Felitta's films have concerned themselves with families that form small enclaves of eccentricity in a sea of homey conservatism. Desperately trying to conform to neighborhood norms, his characters hide their true selves until, through determination or happenstance, their otherness breaks through. In "City Island," set in the titular New York harbor community, that breakthrough explodes in fireworks of farce, spearheaded by Andy Garcia's virtuoso perf as a prison guard with a loud, abrasive, secret-ridden brood. Another expertly written joyride through the confines of narrowminded provincialism to cleansing self-awareness from indie director de Felitta, "City Island" could go mainstream.
    The first signs of danger to the family's precarious equilibrium arrive when jail guard Vince (Garcia) recognizes just-transferred inmate Tony Nardella (a hunky Steven Strait) as the son he sired and abandoned long before his marriage. Vince decides to parole Tony into his custody, and brings him home without telling his family of the connection.

    Vince is already hiding another secret: He's enrolled in a Manhattan acting workshop, his transparent alibi of going to a poker game leading wife Joyce (a magnificently temperamental Julianna Margulies) to suspect infidelity. Meanwhile, Vince's daughter Vivian (Dominik Garcio-Lorido) is dancing in a strip joint to pay her college tuition, while his younger son Vinnie (Ezra Miller, in a pitch-perfect turn) harbors a sexual kink -- surfing the Internet in search of overweight women.

    To outsider Tony, the only real secret is why the family members even bother concealing their problems and passions -- particularly since they literally cry out from the rooftop, where Vince puffs away at the cigarettes he supposedly gave up.

    For Vince, unhappy in his prison job but convinced of his intellectual limitations, acting represents a dream vocation, fueled by his affection for Marlon Brando films. Almost touchingly clueless, he doesn't even realize the long, hilarious tirade against Method acting, delivered in high style by his embittered drama teacher (Alan Arkin), is leveled against idol Brando. Paired for a thesping exercise with Brit-accented Molly (Emily Mortimer), he confides his ambitions while she urges the reluctant Vince to try out for a Martin Scorsese film.

    Vince's audition, complete with an incredibly bad, mouth-stretching Brando imitation, is a comic mini-masterpiece, revealing hitherto unplumbed dese-dem-and-dose depths in the usually urbane Garcia. His domestic scenes with a volatile, earthy Margulies (earlier paired with Garcia in "The Man From Elysian Fields") fairly sizzle with sexual frustration and blindsided affection.

    For de Felitta, comedy is never cruel, and following one's personal bents, however unorthodox, is always empowering. And if the staging of the pic's hysterical, campily melodramatic dockside finale registers as overly schematic, with every skeleton in the closet systematically divulged, it may be because his characters cling so tenaciously to their humanity.

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  3. http://efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=18693City Island

    by brianorndorf
    "It's all about Andy Garcia"

    It took 15 producers to bring “City Island” to the screen, which seems an enormous effort to breathe life into a fairly routine set of domestic troubles and idiosyncratic characters swimming around for emotional enlightenment. Fortunately, there’s a cast here that molds something passably meaningful out of a flat screenplay, instilling the material with a sense of dimension and longing that helps to swallow 90 minutes of exaggerated foibles.
    The ensemble screams and stomps their way through their performances, and their enthusiasm trumps the hysterics for the most part, with Garcia delivering a welcome hurricane of reaction as the man constantly failing upwards. The cast deserves a more considered screenplay than what De Felitta serves up, which spins wildly to find an atmosphere of poetry for the finale. “City Island” doesn’t achieve a secure heartfelt resonance, and while I don’t fault it for trying, it’s not easy to watch the film strain so hard to achieve so little.

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