Sci-fi conceits involving impaired consciousness and some form of time travel are ubiquitous in movies these days. Memento, released in 2000, tackles this premise with a protagonist suffering from short-term amnesia. He tattoos notes on his body to help recall the past, even as his life is spiraling violently forward. In this year's Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Jim Carrey's character spirals backwards trying to outsmart a brain-cleansing procedure before it erases his failed love affair.
The Jacket, a psychological thriller due out in 2005, stars Oscar-winner Adrien Brody as an unstable Gulf War vet subjected to experimental drugs that send him spiraling into the future. Memory damaged, he meets up with the girl of his dreams (Keira Knightley).
The film, produced by George Clooney, is set in Vermont. But it's shooting in Scotland. Hey, at least they don't have Toronto pretending to be the Green Mountain State. The Canadian metropolis is too busy subbing for New York, Chic-ago and almost every other American city.
The Jacket cast includes Kris Kristofferson, long committed to Jay Craven's Disappearances. The actor's appearance won't be realized until the Vermont director finds the money to shoot his adaptation of Howard Frank Mosher's identically-titled novel about rum-running in the Northeast Kingdom during Prohibition.
At the moment, the project appears "to have legs," as Hollywood describes any effort that's progressing. Craven received a $35,000 National Endowment for the Arts grant and has assembled a high-powered team of fundraisers. He hopes to get Disappearances underway in the spring of 2005.
Meanwhile, the Peacham filmmaker has been preparing for the October 27 premiere of "Windy Acres" on Vermont Public Television. His sitcom, which will air each Wednesday at 9 p.m. for six weeks, features Rusty DeWees as a struggling dairy farmer whose persona is apparently a twist on the stereotypical local yokel. In his ever-present wife-beater shirt, he falls for a flatlander played by Seana Kofoed. She has moved to this small town from New York, with her two kids, after losing a job in marketing.
Craven and his performers will attend a Burlington sneak preview of "Windy Acres" at 6 and 8 p.m. on October 16 at Champlain College Alumni Auditorium. Call 592-3190 for tickets. On the same day as the TV launch, the show also goes on sale in DVD and VHS. Copies can be ordered online at http://www. kingdomcountry.com.
Sometimes, we see films just for escape or entertainment. But it's nice to periodically take a more scholarly look at motion pictures that have layers of meaning and character development. The conference "Movies, Books and the '70s" focuses on "Hollywood's Golden Age," according to the Vermont Humanities Council, which is sponsoring the event next month at the Hampton Inn in Colchester. It's all spelled out at http://www.vermonthumanities.org.
On November 5, there'll be a 7 p.m. screening of Woody Allen's Annie Hall, followed by a chat with Middlebury College Assistant Professor Christian Keathley. The sessions on November 6 then examine cinematic works and their literary inspirations.
In the morning, the choices are: Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now and Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad; Roman Polanksi's Chinatown and Oedipus Rex by Sophocles; Milos Forman's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and the Ken Kesey novel; or Melvin Van Peebles' Sweet Sweetback's BaadAssss Song and Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin.
After a buffet lunch, there are further pairings: Martin Scorsese's Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore and The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan; Alan Pakula's All the President's Men and the famous investigative tome by Woodward and Bernstein; Coppola's The Godfather and The Godfather Trilogy by Nick Browne; or George Lucas' Star Wars and The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell.
Participants might want to catch these classics on video beforehand; none will be screened at the conference. The gathering is essentially all talk, no action. Among the discussion leaders are University of Vermont Assistant Professor Hilary Neroni, author-editor James Monaco and Vermont Film Commission executive director Danis Regal.
There's also a keynote address by savvy critic Molly Haskell on "Easy Riders, Raging Bulls and Absent Women: A Decade That Changed Women's Lives Except in the Movies." Right on, sister!
For info cal 880-3183 or visit www.vermonthumanities.org