Our July 13th & 14th screenings are devoted to the little guy. Specifically, the little guy with lots of pals, who’s got lofty goals for the future but bigger problems in the present. We all have someone like that in our lives. If you don’t, you’re them. And in these two star-packed but rarely screened gems, you’ll get to laugh and cry along with their struggle.
First, we’re in Hoboken for 1998’s RESTAURANT, where bartender Chris (Adrien Brody) should be upbeat: he’s about to mount his first play, he’s got amiable co-workers, and he’s struck up a promising relationship with new waitress Jeanine (Elise Neal). But there’s the matter of Chris’ lapsed sobriety, the ex (Lauryn Hill) that inspired the play, the leading actor in the play (Simon Baker) who slept with her, and the racial tensions among the staff that are beginning to bubble up. It’s possible Chris may not be able to keep his play, romance, or extended family together much longer.
RESTAURANT was a reunion for Brody with director Eric Bross and writer Tom Cudworth; the three first collaborated on the New Jersey-set indie drama TEN BENNY, which was Brody’s first headlining role. It was also loosely autobiographical: Bross and Cudworth had met while working in a Montclair, NJ restaurant, and Cudworth was involved in an interracial relationship during that time. The owners of the restaurant where it was filmed were so enamored with the production, for many years they continued to operate it under the scripted name from the film.
The familiar faces in the supporting cast include Jesse L. Martin in his first film role, Malcolm Jamal-Warner, Catherine Kellner, Vonte Sweet, and John Carroll Lynch. Producer Shana Stein would go on to produce Larry Bishop’s HELL RIDE for Quentin Tarantino, and had cameos in KILL BILL V.2 and DJANGO UNCHAINED; she is currently an executive producer on the cable dramas “UNFORGETTABLE” and “POWER.”
Next, it’s off to Ducktown, Tennessee, to meet DALTRY CALHOUN. Johnny Knoxville stars in the 2005 film as the title character, a jovial grass and seed impresario who prides himself on his popular commercials and sales to prestigious golf courses. His upward trajectory gets interrupted by the arrival of a former girlfriend (Elizabeth Banks) and their now-teenaged daughter (Sophie Traub), and the arrival of biological complications in his prized product. As his business empire is threatened, and deeper problems come home, he must reassess what his legacy will be.
A semi-comedic reworking of Thomas Hardy’s THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE, DALTRY is the writing/directing debut for Katrina Holden Bronson, the adopted daughter of Charles Bronson and Jill Ireland. Previously an actress, her most visible role was in the infamous “evil cats” anthology THE UNCANNY, as Lucy, an abused orphan whose own black cat helps her achieve revenge on her mean cousin. Producer Danielle Renfrew made her debut with the 2000 rave culture comedy GROOVE, and has gone on to produce the documentary THE QUEEN OF VERSAILLES and the well-received dramas WAITRESS and GRANDMA.
The supporting cast of eccentrics in DALTRY feature Juliette Lewis as a local merchant smitten with the sod baron, JUPITER ASCENDING and EDGE OF TOMORROW castmember Kick Gurry as the scientist trying to save Daltry’s seed, DONNIE DARKO’s “Sparkle Motion” matron Beth Grant, and Western and grindhouse favorite Andrew Prine. The soundtrack features an unusual range of music from country to lounge to new wave that will likely make you add some tracks to your song queue when you get home.