Back Talk | Books | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

Arts + Culture » Books

Back Talk


Published May 10, 2000 at 9:12 p.m.


Is there a political explanation for all these Vermont wedding movies? We survived Wedding Band, Martin Guigui’s adolescent comedy about a Jewish-Italian union, and it was anything but civil.

The latest cinematic proposal, from Barnet filmmaker Neil Benedict, is The Wedding Guest — an “off-beat comedy drama” in The Graduate tradition. His protagonist is a “quirky character” who gets it into his mind to rekindle an old romance. But it’s kinda late. The wedding he attends is his ex’s, and she is marrying another guy.

Benedict comes to moviemaking from a background in stunt work and fight coordination. In Spitfire Grill, he would have been the guy scaling a cliff with a shotgun — if the scene didn’t end up in a heap on the cutting-room floor. After working on films with Jay Craven, David Giancola and the makers of Mud Season, Benedict made this switch to screenwriting. His low-budget indie feature premieres Saturday night at Catamount Arts in St. Johnsbury. Hopefully The Wedding Guest will stick around long enough so we can see it in Montpelier, Burlington or Middlebury.

The weather may be improving outside, but not at Edgewood Studios in Rutland. David Giancola was conducting “rain tests” on Monday in hopes of landing a meteorological movie that would shoot in August.

Eye of the Storm — from the studio that launched Night of the Twisters — is about a weather-nut kid who predicts the storm of the century. Despite the fact that no one believes him, he manages to save the day.

“Lightning hits a lot of things, which is probably why they called me,” says Giancola, who makes affordable action movies that are distributed all over the world. His latest, Icebreaker, will be available on video by late summer. In the meantime, two “outside” films could blow through his studio — for directors, Edgewood is the closest thing to Hollywood in Vermont.

Come fall, he says, “there may be a little vampire movie.” . . . Sure, there are “creepy, ominous elements” in the movies of Michael Fisher, but the 22-year-old filmmaker rejects the “horror” label. The Montpelier native makes dark, stylized short films — less than five minutes each — in scary Vermont settings. Last Monster was shot by cinematographer Jeff Farber in the receiving vault at Montpelier’s Green Mountain Cemetery, with Vermont actors George Woodard and Grace Kiley in key roles.

His latest, Love of My Life, took to the woods at Burlington’s Rock Point School to dramatize a short story by Vermont horror writer Joe Citro. Both films — plus a third, Grieving — will air on Sunday, May 21, at 10 p.m. on Channel 15. Although a Barre-Montpelier Times Argus article made the obvious Hitchcock connection, Fisher is more enamored of directors like Akira Kurosawa, Stanley Kubrick and David Mamet, who gave him a job on the set of Oleanna.

Mamet liked Fisher well enough to act in the young man’s first movie, along with Atlantic Theater Company actors Felicity Huffman and Robert Bella. Set in Burlington’s Oasis Diner after hours, it was appropriately titled Noir.

“As a filmmaker, I am very interested in light,” says Nora Jacobson. And what better place to soak up the rays than sunny Mexico? Since she completed My Mother’s Early Lovers, about the secrets of a dysfunctional Vermont family, the Norwich-based Jacobson has shifted her focus — south.

Her next movie will commit to celluloid a Mexican cosmology myth about the creation of the sun and the moon. “It’s a story that doesn’t make sense in our day and age,” she says, “about a woman whose lover is a deer. She finds these two kids, tells them their father is a deer, and they kill him.” A tough sell, for sure, but Jacobson calls it “almost a reaction against the canvas of depressing and alienated American life,” as portrayed in movies like American Beauty, Ice Storm, Election and Happiness. She has been experimenting with masks, puppets and lighting to convey that Oaxacan “sense of magic.”

The first footage, which she likens to a rough sketch for a final painting, will be shown at an informal screening at Burlington College at 6 p.m. on Friday.

Vermont actor Rusty Dewees was scheduled to race at Thunder Road last weekend. But his rig’s not ready, so he’s going to take a trip to Manhattan instead. Anyone who saw his Logger stage show knows it involves an imagined trip to New York City.

In the sequel to his popular video, he does it for real — Dewees packs up the old chainsaw and rolls the cameras into the canyons of Gotham. On location next week, he plans to interview a stripper, and could very well run into one of the Crawford sisters — you know, one of Cindy’s siblings. Then he’ll return a call from Martin Guigui, who is scouting talent for his next Vermont-made movie. This one promises to be every bit as culturally sensitive and anthropologically enlightened as Wedding Band was. Working title? Jeezum Crow.

Speaking of...