Director has no sophomore worries Movies: Bryan Singer has taken a conventional approach after the complexity of 'The Usual Suspects.'

Film

October 23, 1998|By Ann Hornaday | Ann Hornaday,SUN FILM CRITIC

Don't think that Bryan Singer, whose film "Apt Pupil" opens in theaters today, is sweating the sophomore slump problem. The director's last film, the 1995 indie hit "The Usual Suspects," was actually his second film. In 1992 he directed "Public Access," a creepy thriller about a stranger who turns a small town upside down. The film took honors at the Sundance Film Festival in 1993 and got the buzz going about Singer.

"Emotionally I'm liberated, because I had a movie like 'Public Access' ... that didn't get a distribution deal, then 'The Usual Suspects,' which had that ubiquitous success. I've had both experiences so I'm more seasoned than I appear, and less concerned about those things than [doing] the right film at the right time in the right context."

Although observers have expressed surprise that Singer would eschew the narrative complexity and striking visuals of "The Usual Suspects" for the relatively conventional storytelling of "Apt Pupil," Singer insists the leap wasn't that wide.

"'Apt Pupil' captures some of the same elements," he says. "It's unpredictable, it has dark frightening villains, there are surprises and a drive to an interesting conclusion. But it's not a very expensive movie. I'm not jumping from 'The Usual Suspects' to 'The Usual Suspects II' starring Robert De Niro and Tom Cruise and whatnot."

Although writer Chris McQuarrie, who won the Oscar for his script of "The Usual Suspects," didn't adapt "Apt Pupil," Singer still kept the project in the family: Brandon Boyce, who grew up with Singer, McQuarrie and actor Ethan Hawke in New Jersey, wrote this movie. (Singer's next movie, an adaptation of the comic book "The X-Men," is being written by McQuarrie.)

Does Singer think that he, McQuarrie and Hawke -- who starred in Singer's student film at the University of Southern California -- will ever hook up again? "Oh, I hope so, at some point," he says. "Ethan taught me more about acting than anybody else I've ever worked with. It would be my pleasure to work with Ethan again. It would be a far cry from the 8 millimeter films we used to shoot. I'd take a salary cut, but I don't know about the other guys!"

More 'Hot Skin'

Baltimore, you asked for it: "Disco Dolls in Hot Skin," the 3-D X-rated epic starring Leslie Bovee and John Holmes, will stay on as the Charles Theater's midnight movie this weekend. "I sort of wanted to get it over with, but it's making too much money," Charles co-owner John Standiford said after the raunchy skin-fest packed in hundreds of filmgoers last weekend. "It's a big joke for everybody, I guess, in some strange way."

This weekend will be X-philes' last chance to see "Disco Dolls" before it makes way for the Charles' special Halloween movie next weekend.

Independent films

The HOME group's occasional independent open film and video screening will have another installment tonight at the Lodge in Highlandtown. Films from the Seattle film cooperative Independent Exposure are scheduled to be shown, along with the films by whoever wants to stop by. The show starts at 9 p.m. Admission is $2.

'Sergeant York'

On Saturday the Enoch Pratt Free Library will screen "Sergeant York," Howard Hawks' 1941 drama based on the true story about a Tennessee boy (Gary Cooper) who goes from being a pacifist to becoming one of World War II's hardest-fighting heroes, at 2 p.m. in the Wheeler Auditorium. The screening is part of the library's series "From Rosie to Roosevelt: The American People during World War II." Sunday's video discussion, led by historian Thomas Cripps, will be about "Proudly We Served: The Men of the U.S.S. Mason," about the African-American soldiers in the war. The video will be shown at 2 p.m. in the Wheeler Auditorium.

Hunter and DeVito

Cinema Sundays, the film lovers' movie series at the Charles Theater, continues Sunday with a preview screening of "Living Out Loud," a romantic drama starring Holly Hunter and Danny DeVito. Queen Latifah co-stars. The screening will begin at 10: 30 a.m., after a brunch of bagels and coffee. Eddie Cockerill will lead the day's discussion.

Memberships are still available for the six remaining programs of Cinema Sundays. Memberships are $95 ($90 for members who re-join). Single tickets will be available for $15 at the door if seats are available. Doors open at 9: 45 a.m. For more information call 410-727-FILM.

Hauntingly Bach

Women in Film and Video of Maryland and the Bach Society of Baltimore will throw a benefit party on Sunday.

The Bach Society will perform Bach's Haunted Concert after a tour of the catacombs of Westminster Hall & Burying Ground. Performances will be held at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tickets are $15.

Pub Date: 10/23/98

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