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The Charlotte Observer from Charlotte, North Carolina • Page 33
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The Charlotte Observer from Charlotte, North Carolina • Page 33

Charlotte, North Carolina
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eche Charlotte Observer Saturday Apn117 1993 9C The films of tomorrow's directors can be seen today r-: 's )z: s--: i ii- VV r- -------'-'6 1 :1::: ---------s- I ::11:::: --r--- I I -N: VVV 5 4 ::41: :7 --i iii'-: 11: :::::1::::::::0 I i 0009' l':" 1 iil: A-7'1)' :::4 1:: 1:: --1-- 1: 1' By LAWRENCE TOPPMAN Movie Writer Film connoisseurs start early They notice Martin Scorsese not after the startling "Mean Streets" but as early as the autobiographical "Italian-American" They latch Onto Spike Lee even before "She's Gotta Have It" recognizing flashes of brilliance in "Joe's BedStuy Barbershop: We Cut Heads" If you don't know those titles that's because you never get the chance to see student films in Charlotte until now Washington's Howard University will bring "Black Visions Silver Screen" to Charlotte on Tuesday for two showings a matinee at Johnson Smith University and an evening show at the Afro-American Cultural Center Howard another historically black college has toured this program to six Southern cities In a sense the outspoken Lee is responsible "Spike came in December" says As- sistant Professor Torriano Berry of the school's radio television and film department "He said Howard had this film school but he'd never seen a film come out of it I got to thinking why not get projects out to the public? "We hope to make these tours a yearly thing or bring a program to anyone who can afford it We have student filmmakers talk to classes" The quartet of student-made movies comprises "Their Eyes Were Watching God" an 11-minute segment of the Zora Hurston novel that won writer-director Doreen Mitchum the university's 1992 Robeson Award for best production "Hard Candy" by Audrea Topps (the 1991 Robeson winner) "In the Flesh" by Daniel Williams and "Apple Crumb Panic" a collaborative effort by Black Magic Filmworks The screenings should last about 90 minutes "The emphasis at Howard is on film production such as directing and lighting" says Berry "There are some theory and history classes but it's designed to teach people to be filmmakers: raising funds finishing a script shooting your movie "There aren't a lot of jobs: The industry is tight and a lot of it is who you know or who knows you (But) the industry has realized the younger market is out there (and) they're hiring creative people to appeal to that market" So what's on the minds of these camera-carrying former teenagers? "Thematically the only thing I've noticed in class productions is a lot of violence projects about drugs and people getting shot" Berry says "You won't see that in the work that I'm bringing down but in class projects Most of it is on the positive side though: They'll show the foolishness of it and the negative effects it perpetrates "The majority of my students plan to produce films When I came through UCLA in the early '80s there was no group of black filmmakers I knew one was coming because things happen cyclically: Every 15 years you get a crop of new black films "In the back of my mind I thought not 'Am I good but 'Will I be allowed to make the kinds of films I want to I haven't had those conversations with filmmakers here so I'd say they have a more optimistic view" RON SLENZAKTwentieth Century Fox Parting words from lB 1-- le Mk lk I 1- Days before his death in Wilmington the martial arts actor talked about his life and his final film Did the makeup helpyou create the charac- ter? A Yeah it really has I was talking about how you are dealing with a man who has been pushed to the limits of his own sanity and II think in some ways what happens is he finds himself in a situation that he Eric Draven is not really capable of dealing with Somehow creating this persona of the Crow which involves the makeup and some of the totems he picks up in his adventures like the spent shell casings he ties in his hair and the electrical tape he applies to his body he creates someone who is capable of dealing with the situation By WILSON GOODSON Special to The Observer Many actors draw from personal experiences when they are creating a character How do you find the motivation for somebody like "The Is he a hero ghost goblin villain? A He has some powers that make him different than a normal man but he is still a normal man He is reacting to a very terrible tragedy which is not only his own death but more importantly the death of the woman he loved The only thing that makes this remarkable is that his own death was involved and he has come back from the dead I think you are dealing with a man who has been pushed to the limits of his own sanity by this situation that he finds himself in Films from Howard There were one too many parallels between the lives of Brandon Lee and his father Bruce Lee the American-bom martial arts expert achieved cult-movie status in the early '70s in low-budget action films made in Asia He died in 1973 Brandon Lee who was 8 when his father died learned martial arts as a child and made his first feature film in 1986: the low-budget "Legacy of Rope" shot in Chinese He died March 31 in Wilmington during the filming of "The Crow" It was to be the 28-year-old's breakthrough film Bruce Lee's death was mysterious caused by a swelling of the brain but ruled by the Hong Kong coroner as "death by misadventure" In his last movie "Game of Death" Bruce Lee's character pretended to die from gunshot wounds Brandon Lee was fatally wounded on Caroko Studios' problem-plagued "Crow" set A prop gun fired at him was supposed to have been loaded with blanks it held a live bullet instead Wilmington police are investigating the shooting and the future of based on a vengeful comic book character who returns from the dead is in doubt Wilson Goodson a Huntersville free-lance writer interviewed Lee just II days before his death They talked between "Crow" takes Do you think he dies at the end of the film? A I don't think that he was ever alive not in the usual sense of the word I think that he has been given a certain amount of time and at the end of that time he returns to where he was before More than once you have said you always wanted to be an actor What attracted you to acting rather than something with a pension plan and regular meals? The four films run at 3 pm Tuesday in Room 108 of the Humanities Building on the JCSU campus (off Beatties Ford Road) then at 7 pm at the Afro-American Cultural Center 401 Myers St They're free funding was provided by a grant from the NC Humanities Council and JCSU Details: 378-1069 or 374-1565 9 am-5 pm weekdays To book the Howard program call Torriano Berry at (202) 806-7927 9 am5 pm weekdays 4:2 Did you do any special training or preparation for this particular character? A Well I had some ideas about the physicality of the character For example I lost some weight for the part first of all because I was kind of modeling his physicality after someone like (rock star) Iggy Pop or you know Chris Robinson of the Black Crowes that real skinny gaunt rock 'n' roll look Also being as how he is this man that comes back from the dead I felt he should not have a real robust healthy appearance If you know what I mean A always wanted to be an actor and I pursued that from the time I was very young I have Please see Actorpage 11C 'Prelude to Kiss' touches us but from a distance mance Her nasal delivery makes it difficult to hear her her character never coalesces In marked contrast Lenthall despite being several decades younger than the role is studied subtle and wrenchingly accurate as the old man The walk is a deliberate rolling limp on the balls of his sneaker-clad feet The breathing isn't huffy-puffy but you can feel the old man running out of breath after only a few steps The look on his face is one of true astonishment and wonder at the oddities of life 4 a i'' i K' 'I 1' 'r I i': i-: i e'''''' -''17 i ::) '4' 1 i i 's 7 -44 1 1 i I i t7'' 41 i i '''r' :1 a A '-'1 7FiLor :::1:::1::: 1:4 11 :1:::: 1:: st ::::::4 ::4: 6 I 1 4' s4 -4' 1 if 1 i- rl -i 0: i 1::: character-interconnectedness the script demands Particularly troublesome is the hollowness and distance of the physical production The set (beautifully painted by Sandra Gray) is too insubstantial for the Booth Playhouse and the action is too far away from us The action is swallowed by the space and the audience is never invited to join The jokes are funny but the fantasy doesn't cast its spell A measured wholly assured Scott Helm is Peter who serves as our narrator Even when he has to change clothes in a spotlight Helm remains cool and light on his feet But when it comes time to kiss the old manRita he cannot convince us he means it Hilariously exaggerated performances are turned in by Mark Lazar and Mary Lucy Bivins as Rita's flaky parents and by Tim Grant as Peter's glib friend Claire Whitworth mistakenly attempts to capture Rita's laissez-faire lifestyle with a casual perfor Craig Lucas' "Prelude to a Kiss" and actor David Lenthall are a match made in Englewood Cliffs Lucas has created a witty erotic and surreal fairy tale for the '90s about a young man and woman who meet at a party in New York immedi- Afro- ately fall in love get mar- ot1 et ried at her par- I ents' home in l'i li' Englewood it1! Cliffs NJ and promise to love and Theater keep each other even in mow -) old age TONY It's a prom- BROWN Ise that comes due sooner than expected In the Charlotte Repertory Theatre production Lenthall brings a chuckling audience to the brink of tears as this fairy tale's frog The play previewed Thursday and opened Friday at the North Caro lina Blumenthal Performing Arts Center He's an old man sick with cancer who interrupts the nuptials kisses the bride and exchanges souls with her winning new life in a new body but throwing the lives of the two young people into horrible chaos Can Peter love Rita the person in the body of an old man or does he need her face and vital conjugal organs? How well do you know anyone especially your spouse? While the script only begins to get at these complexities the Charlotte Rep production does not let us experience what this wonderful fantasy can be The show directed by Steve Umberger and boasting several strong performances in addition to Lenthall's will improve before it closes May 1 but the question is one of time and degree The production attempts to emulate the imaginative spare staging of the original New York show but It lacks the fluidity pacing and If you're going Performances 8 pm today Thursday-next Saturday and April 29-May 1 3 pm today and Sunday next Saturday April 25 and May 1 North Carolina Blumenthal Performing Arts Center 130 Tryon St $1850 to 613 333-8587 8:30 am-5 pm weekdays or 372-1000 10 am-6 pm REBECCA CAIRNS Claire Whitworth and Scott Helm (right) play the unlucky bride and groom in Charlotte Repertory Theatre's production of "Prelude to a Kiss" James Dracy is the minister 4 1 I 1.

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