Jennifer Tilly Perspectives

Jennifer Tilly in Bound


not in competition
Saturday, 2:15 – 4:15 p.m.
Fine Arts Theatre – upper

(109 minutes) In one of her best and most nuanced (not to mention bravest) performances, Jennifer Tilly plays Violet, the mistress of mobster Caesar (Joe Pantoliano), who seems blissfully unaware of his girlfriend’s interest in other women — something that comes to light when Violet meets Corky (Gina Gershon), a fresh out of prison lesbian. It’s not long before a full-blown romance has blossomed between the two women, despite Corky’s skepticism and basic distaste for Violet’s lifestyle. The plot takes a turn — just one of many — when Caesar ends up in possession of a suitcase containing $2 million. Violet — assuming that Corky’s criminal past will come into play — wants to steal the money, make it look like Caesar is responsible, and run away with her newfound girlfriend. Hesitant to get involved at first, Corky comes up with a convoluted scheme that will either find the pair rich and free, or dead.

Bound marks the directorial debut of The Wachowski Brothers (Andy and Larry), who went on to greater fame with their Matrix trilogy. Greater fame isn’t everything, however, as Bound ably demonstrates by still being the best film the pair has made. The film is a triumph of making something remarkable out of very little. It rarely leaves its apartment building setting with most of the action taking place in a handful of rooms, and though we do meet a couple of cops and gangsters various and sundry the bulk of the film is given over to Tilly, Gershon and Pantoliano. Yet Bound never seems stagey or compromised. The seemingly endless plot twists, the characterizations, the twisted humor, the savvy dialogue all combine with the Wachowski’s boundless cinematic playfulness to create a stunning film experience. It’s one of the most audacious debut works in the history of film, and if the camerawork occasionally seems a little too clever for its own good, it’s never allowed to submerge the suspense of the story. Part thriller, part erotic love story, part macabre comedy (and sometimes all three at once), Bound is one of those rare movies that just gets better and better with the passage of time.

Rated R: This film contains adult language and material.

Director: The Wachowski Brothers Producer: Stuart Boros, Andrew Lazar Writer: The Wachowski Brothers Cinematographer: Bill Pope Editor: Zach Staenberg Music: Don Davis Production Company: Dino De Laurentiis Productions, Spelling Films Cast: Jennifer Tilly, Gina Gershon, Joe Pantoliano, John P. Ryan, Christopher Meloni, Richard C. Sarafian. Mary Mara, Susie Bright

Jennifer Tilly in Bullets over Broadway

Bullets Over Broadway

not in competition
Friday, 7:30 – 9:30 p.m.
Fine Arts Theatre – lower

(98 minutes) Jennifer Tilly snagged a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for her work in Woody Allen’s Bullets Over Broadway playing Olive, the ditsy girlfriend of gangster Nick Valenti (Joe Viterreli). Olive wants to be an actress (“I did a musical review in Wichita. Maybe you heard of it — it was called Leave a Specimen“) and a complete lack of acting ability (or much of anything in the way of intelligence) doesn’t prevent Nick from foisting her onto playwright David Shayne (John Cusack) as part of the price for financing his play. Tilly is a preposterous delight as the talentless Olive — cast as the most unlikely psychiatrist of all time in Shayne’s almost equally appalling sub-Eugene O’Neill drama, God of Our Fathers. Her comic timing is impeccable and it keeps the loud-mouthed, frequently abusive (“Hey, ya’ gonna hover over me like dead meat?” she screams at her bodyguard) Olive comic instead of annoying.

The film is one of Allen’s most richly detailed works, capturing an authentic feel of its late ’20s-early ’30s setting and the full sense of the literary and artistic scene of that age. The tone ranges from affectionately mocking to outright satire, but it’s always tempered with the feeling that Allen truly loves the whole Algonquin Round Table era and even the pretentious side of New York Theatre of the time with its weighty O’Neill plays. He genuinely likes his deluded playwright hero who ends up taking advice on how to write “like people talk” from Olive’s bodyguard (Chazz Palminteri), his over-the-hill, alcoholic grand dame of the theatre (Dianne Weist), his food-addicted leading man (Jim Broadbent), and, yes, even the dizzy Olive herself. The dialogue is bright and witty, the situations are clever. There is a deeper side to the film (just how far should one be willing to go for art?), the fun never stops, though it sometimes gets a little dark (catch the running gag with the Mills Brothers’ “Up the Lazy River”). A gem of a movie with a terrific Jennifer Tilly performance.

Jennifer Tilly will appear at this screening with a reception to follow.

Rated R: This film contains adult language and material.

Director: Woody Allen Producer: Robert Greenhut Writer: Woody Allen, Douglas McGrath Cinematographer: Carlo DiPalmi Editor: Susan E. Morse Production Company: Magnolia Productions, Miramax Films, Sweetland Films Cast: John Cusack, Jennifer Tilly, Dianne Weist, Chazz Palminteri, Mary-Louise Parker, Jack Warden, Joe Viterelli, Rob Reiner, Tracey Ullman, Jim Broadbent, Harvey Fierstein

Jennifer Tilly in  Cats Meow

The Cat’s Meow

not in competition
Sunday, 4:30 – 6:30 p.m.
Fine Arts Theatre – upper

(114 minutes) Jennifer Tilly co-stars as the legendary Hollywood gossip columnist Louella Parsons in this ensemble film from Peter Bogdanovich about the mysterious death of movie pioneer Thomas H. Ince (Cary Elwes) on William Randolph Hearst’s (Edward Herrmann) yacht in 1924. Tilly’s performance here is one of her most remarkable ones. She plays Parsons as a seemingly green kid fresh to the Hollywood scene. (“Oh, my God!” she enthuses upon catching sight of Charlie Chaplin (Eddie Izzard) and rushing up to meet him, “Mr. Chaplin, it is an honor — and I mean a true honor — to meet you, sir! Louella Parsons — I write for Mr. Hearst’s paper the New York American. I’ve been there a whole year.”) Only slowly does the viewer begin to notice that Parsons isn’t quite the wide-eyed innocent she pretends to be. Oh, she’s wide-eyed alright, but mostly because she’s carefully and shrewdly taking in every detail that might be of use to her — and when she finds the leverage she’s been looking for, little “Lolly” Parsons flickers into view as the terrifying power she would become.

The film marked the return of Peter Bogdanovich to the realm of worthwhile filmmakers after years of indifferent projects and TV work. There’s a certain aptness in Bogdanovich tackling this. Bogdanovich started his career as a movie critic and film historian who became a friend of Orson Welles, and one of the chief defenders of Welles’ masterpiece, Citizen Kane, when critic Pauline Kael attempted to debunk the Welles’ “myth” with her Citizen Kane Book in the early 1970s. Since Citizen Kane was Welles’ thinly veiled take on William Randolph Hearst, what more natural than Bogdanovich tackling another aspect of the Hearst story? Indeed, Bogdanovich’s film even includes a scene in which Hearst (Edward Herrmann) furiously ransacks Marion Davies’ (Kirsten Dunst) cabin that is obviously patterned on the famous scene in Kane where Kane trashes his wife’s bedroom. It’s also hard not to notice a certain parallel between Bogdanovich himself and film pioneer Thomas H. Ince as Ince is presented in The Cat’s Meow. Once one of the most powerful producers in the world, Ince had very much fallen on hard times by 1924 when he boarded Hearst’s yacht for the fateful weekend party that would end in his still mysterious death. According to the film, Ince was desperately trying to align his moviemaking interests with those of Hearst. It’s a situation that Bogdanovich is all too familiar with, and may account for how well he responded to the material afforded by The Cat’s Meow. Altogether a fascinating look at old Hollywood from a master filmmaker and a perfect cast.

Rated PG-13: This film contains adult language and material.

Director: Peter Bogdanovich Producer: Julie Baines, Kim Beiber, Carole Lewis, Dieter Meyer Writer: Steven Peros Cinematographer: Bruno Delbonnel Editor: Edward Norris Music: Ian Whitcomb Production Company: CP Medien, Dan Films, KC Medien AG, Lions Gate Films, The Cat’s Meow Limited London Cast: Kirsten Dunst, Edward Herrmann, Eddie Izzard, Jennifer Tilly, Cary Elwes, Joanna Lumley, Claudia Harrison, Victor Slezak, James Laurenson

Jennifer Tilly in Seed of Chucky

Seed Of Chucky

not in competition
Friday, 10:30 p.m. – 12:30 a.m.
Fine Arts Theatre – lower

(87 minutes) Jennifer Tilly plays both herself and the voice of the homicidal doll Tiffany in Don Mancini’s Seed of Chucky (2004), the fifth and probably best film in the “Chucky” series, which began in 1988 with Child’s Play. Having created the role of Tiffany in Bride of Chucky (1998), it was only natural that Tilly would reprise the character here. Less expected was that she would also play Jennifer Tilly — or, more correctly, a parody of Jennifer Tilly devised by herself and Don Mancini. And a more delicious, self-deprecating performance could not be imagined. Tilly constantly allows herself to be the butt of jokes about her career (“I could have played Erin Brokovich and I wouldn’t have needed the Wonder Bra!”), her weight and her celebrity status. At the same time, she gives her all to the role of Tiffany, who is here re-envisioned as wanting to go straight (via a 12 step program, working on the idea that serial killing is an addiction like any other). Both sides of her performance here are utterly inspired.

The film itself is a wild ride and a modern “trash masterpiece” that never forgets its horror movie underpinnings, as evidenced by beautifully conceived and executed opening scene of real horror and bravura horror filmmaking. The story itself concerns a living doll, Glen … or maybe Glenda (voiced by Billy Boyd), who discovers (by way of the matching “Made in Japan” birthmark on his arm) that he’s the son (or daughter) of the notorious serial killers Chucky (voiced by Brad Dourif) and Tiffany, who are now making movies in Hollywood. Once Glen arrives on the scene, he finds his plastic parents have become nothing but animatronic dolls. However, the voodoo chant that animated Chucky in the first film soon changes all that and the real mayhem begins.

Mancini’s storyline centers on Tiffany and Chucky finding real bodies to take over, which in this case means Jennifer Tilly and rapper Redman (played by Redman), who happens to be around because Tilly is trying to convince him to let her play the Virgin Mary in his proposed Biblical epic (“Mel Gibson’s not the only one God talks to”). Though the horror — and splatter — content is appropriately high, much of the film is played for outrageous satire that takes aim at Hollywood in particular and pop culture in general. With in-joke references to an array of other horror films — notably Psycho, Blood for Dracula, Carrie and The Shining — and even non-horror pictures — Rebel Without a Cause and guest-star John Waters’ Pink FlamingosSeed of Chucky is more fun than a worm-eating contest with Anna Nicole Smith.

The screening will be introduced by Jennifer Tilly, Don Mancini and Mountain Xpress movie critic and film historian Ken Hanke.

Rated R: This film contains adult language and material.

Director: Don Mancini Producer: David Kirschner, Corey Sienega Writer: Don Mancini Cinematographer: Vernon Layton Editor: Chris Dickens, Ilinca Nanveanu Music: Pino Donaggio Production Company: Rogue Pictures Cast: Jennifer Tilly, Brad Dourif, Billy Boyd, Redman, Hannah Spearitt, John Waters, Keith-Lee Castle, Steve Lawton, Tony Gardner


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