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International Film Festival 2000

Film Reviews

Home Sweet Hoboken Indie filmmaker Yoshifumi Hosoya, whose quirky Sleepy Heads was well received at WorldFest/ Houston '97, returns with a comedy about a Hoboken waitress who's never at a loss for company after she discovers the ring she received long ago as a gift is worth $10 million. Cast: Elizabeth Ashley, Ben Gazzara, Jayce Bartok and Lee Holmes.

Kimberly Four young friends fall for the same beautiful woman (Gabrielle Anwar of Scent of a Woman), and she in turn falls for each of these eligible bachelors. Things get complicated, however, when Kimberly turns up pregnant by one of the buddies. Frederic A. Golchan (producer of Whoopi Goldberg's The Associate) wrote and directed this romantic comedy. Cast: Anwar, Sean Astin, Jason Lewis, Robert Mailhouse and Chris Rydell.

Late August, Early September Olivier Assayas's affectingly melancholy drama focuses on a small circle of friends in the Paris literary world over the course of a year. But the title refers not so much to the calendar as to a state of existence, that moment of epiphany in your life when you're forced to admit you're not a kid anymore, and that some long-cherished dreams may never be fulfilled without a lot of heavy lifting. For Adrien Willner (Francois Cluzet), a 40-year-old novelist with a small but devoted following, the passing of time has become especially worrisome. Recently diagnosed with an unnamed but probably fatal illness, he is forced to consider his position as a critically respected cult-fave who has never scored a breakthrough best-seller. He's not exactly isolated in his deep-blue funk -- this is, after all, a French movie, so you can be sure he has a fawning young beauty to provide some divertissement -- but even his few close friends can't do much to lighten his mood. Gabriel (Mathieu Amalric) is profoundly troubled by Adrien's ill health, and not just because he has long viewed the slightly older author as his mentor. Thoughts of morality and diminished expectations force him to take a closer look at his own personal and professional discontents. Recently split from a girlfriend, he's trying to get his life in order before committing to a new relationship with a beautiful young clothing designer (Virginie Ledoyen of The Beach). He senses that he is just treading water while working as a midlevel publishing executive. Late August glides at an unhurried pace through the day-to-day lives of Gabriel, Adrien and the people in their orbit. Appropriately enough for a movie about literary types, Assayas breaks his loosely plotted story into segments like chapters in a novel, as events unfold with a randomness that is more apparent than real. Although the characters and their milieu are specifically rendered, Late August effortlessly achieves a universal resonance. The ensemble cast is flawless across the board, further enhancing the movie's ability to stealthily trigger shocks of recognition. At times, you may find yourself thinking, "I know that person!" At other times, you may startle yourself by realizing, "I am that person!" (J.L.)

Director Duane Clark will be present for the festival's closing-night feature, Family Tree.
Director Duane Clark will be present for the festival's closing-night feature, Family Tree.
Ossie Davis (center) and Ruby Dee (second from right) star in the made-for-cable drama Finding Buck McHenry.
Ossie Davis (center) and Ruby Dee (second from right) star in the made-for-cable drama Finding Buck McHenry.

Legacy Tod S. Lending's nonfiction feature deals unflinchingly with hardscrabble lives in an urban jungle. But don't let that keep you away, because the movie turns out to be uplifting and encouraging in ways you might never expect. Filmed over six years, Legacy follows the near-miraculous ascendancy of an economically deprived African-American family in the wake of a devastating tragedy. Ironically, Lending and his crew were in the right place at the wrong time: During their first day of filming another documentary in a notorious Chicago housing project, a 15-year-old honor student named Terrell Collins was fatally shot by a classmate. Instead of simply grieving, Collins's relatives honor the young man's memory by using his death as an inspiration to reinvent themselves. Legacy celebrates their uphill battles and small triumphs as a grandmother becomes a homeowner for the first time, a single mother kicks a drug habit and finds steady work -- and Nickcole, Terrell's cousin and the movie's narrator, beats long odds and heads to college. (J.L.)

Little Crumb Based on a classic Dutch children's tale, this film relates the story of a little boy who is left on his own after his guardian dies. Cast: Ruud Veltkamp, Thekla Reuten. Director: Maria Peters.

Lost Wings Documentary filmmaker Wolfgang Scholz tries his hand at fiction with this German-produced drama about a 14-year-old boy who comes to the aid of an elderly woman on the verge of being evicted from her villa. Cast: Gudrun Okras, Peter Franke and Roy Helbig.

Louis Prima: The Wildest! A documentary look at the life and times of the legendary singer and bandleader. Footage ranges from the New Orleans of his youth to the Manhattan nightlife of his successful years. Director: Don McGlynn.

Love and Basketball Omar Epps (In Too Deep, The Mod Squad) and newcomer Sanaa Lathan star in first-time filmmaker Gina Prince-Bythewood's drama about the friendship, rivalry and love between two young hoopsters from an affluent African-American neighborhood in Los Angeles. Prince-Bythewood played basketball at UCLA, so you can safely expect an informed insider's view of the college sports scene. Produced by Spike Lee. Epps is expected to appear at the opening-night screening. Cast: Epps, Lathan, Alfre Woodard and Dennis Haysbert.

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