The May issue of Premiere magazine features a 4-page profile of the Savoy Theater. There's an image of "mom-and-pop owners" Rick Winston and Andrea Serota, as well as one of Waterbury farmer/filmmaker George Woodard with a Holstein. The story, by Brooke Hauser, depicts Montpelier as an improbable movie Mecca.
An enthusiastic quote from actor William H. Macy, a part-time resident of nearby Woodbury, adds to the impression of a really happenin' place: "There are a lot of interesting folks living in Vermont," he suggests. "It's made up of dairy farmers and expatriates and a lot of intellectual types who have opted not to live in the big city -- poets and screenwriters and all kinds of artists."
The piece itself is a bit of an inside job: Winston says that Hauser, now a Brooklyn-based associate editor of the glossy, is the partner of former Savoy employee Addie MacDonald.
The writer's perspective is affectionate, albeit a bit too naïve about the hinterlands. "One fact Brooke didn't check concerns my house, which she describes as a cabin," Winston notes. "It's actually a New England cape that sleeps 12, if need be."
When he pointed out the error to Hauser, she told him: "What do I know? I'm from Miami."
Premiere failed to mention another cinematic corner of the capital city. Stitch & Flix is a "queer film series" at the Langdon Street Cafe, according to Heather Pipino. She coordinates the monthly event with three fellow members of the collective that runs Black Sheep Books, a store just above the eatery with secondhand radical and scholarly volumes.
"Some people involved wanted to start a knitting group; others wanted movies and discussions," she explains. "So we combined the two. It began in December as a way to avoid cabin fever, but we decided to keep going."
The Cockettes, a 2002 documentary about a notorious San Francisco troupe of gender-bending performers in the early 1970s, will screen on May 16 at the cafe. Archival footage of drag stars such as Candy Darling, Jackie Curtis and Holly Woodlawn rubs shoulders with clips of the era's heavies, Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan.
The series' audiences are "both male and female," Pipino says. "Straight people come, too. But you can just never tell who's a closet knitter."
Two alleged Stitch & Flix sponsors are part of the mischievous mythology. "There aren't really groups called Central Vermont Queer Liberation Army and Revolutionary Knitters," Pipino admits. "But hopefully these things will take off now that we've mentioned them."
Check out http://www.blacksheep books.org for more information.
The Savoy's Rick Winston observes that, in these dark times, moviegoers seem less interested in watching grim realism on the big screen. For those who can handle the truth, Sophie Scholl is the wrenching historical account of a young woman who defied the Nazis in 1943. This Oscar-nominated, German picture directed by Marc Rothemund, opening Friday at the Palace 9 in South Burlington, dramatizes Sophie's real-life choice between complicit silence and dangerous dissent. Six decades later, that decision is still potent.
A Munich University biology major, Sophie (Julia Jentsch) and her older, med-student brother Hans (Fabian Hinrichs) work with the underground White Rose movement. Their mimeographed fliers urge German citizens to resist the Third Reich's vile domestic and foreign policies. They warn that the country's catastrophic defeat in the Battle of Stalingrad, which has just ended, won't stop Hitler from his pursuit of never-ending war.
When Sophie, Hans and White Rose compatriot Christoph (Florian Stette) are arrested, a wily Gestapo officer (Alexander Held) interrogates her. She effectively denies her participation in clandestine activities until confronted with some newly acquired and damning evidence. Thanks to a script by Fred Breinersdorfer, adapted from recently released transcripts of the actual sessions, these tense scenes reveal the protagonist's remarkable poise under fire.
Jentsch, a star of The Edukators, imbues 21-year-old Sophie with a maturity that is the antithesis of today's girls-gone-wild mindset. Her social conscience seems to stem from a devotion to Christianity, her loving family of dissidents, and a clear-eyed assessment of the totalitarian zeitgeist. Sophie's fate may be bleak, but her stand against fascism is inspirational.
Actress-turned-director Anjelica Huston began shooting an American version, titled The White Rose, in November. The cast includes Albert Finney, Liam Neeson, Tim Robbins and, as Sophie, Christina Ricci.
If faithful to its source, perhaps an English-language production can persuade reluctant audiences that grim realism doesn't have to mean despair.