It's art, irony and raw meat

Showing: Baltimore artist Lee Boot makes provocative and whimsical videos that comment on art and the world


April 09, 1999|By Ann Hornaday | Ann Hornaday,SUN FILM CRITIC

Baltimore artist Lee Boot believes that there's an art show in everyone's head. Surely there's an art show in his, as he has prodigiously demonstrated in his work, which combines sculptural installation, performance art and video to whimsical and provocative effect.

Bringing his finely honed sense of irony to bear on such elements as the human brain, raw meat, light bulbs and Bic pens, Boot makes pithy commentaries on the art world and the world at large, from Cartesian notions of reality to the mysterious workings of the corporate mind.

Three of Boot's video pieces, "Hiding in America" (1991), "Mr. Lee's Avant-Garde Conceptual Modern Art Show" (1993) and "Making Art With Tape" (1996), will be shown tonight at 9 at the Lodge, 244 S. Highland Ave. Admission is $4; $3 for members of the Fells Point Creative Alliance, which is sponsoring the show.

Star-rich, cash-poor

When "Mixed Blessings" makes its Maryland premiere at the Senator on Wednesday, local film-goers may notice a small discrepancy.

The comedy, written and produced by local filmmakers Mary Hardcastle and Shelley Morhaim, is set in Baltimore. But nary a rowhouse or harbor -- inner or outer -- can be seen in the film.

"Mixed Blessings," which was directed by Nadine Bass, was filmed in Los Angeles "totally for budgetary reasons," Hardcastle explained the other day. "It broke our hearts."

Once such name actors as Kelly Curtis, Ed McMahon and Timothy Bottoms signed on the project, it became clear to the producing team that bringing them all East and putting them up would be prohibitive.

"Mixed Blessings," in which Curtis plays a homemaker who finally realizes her dream of making a movie, has enjoyed a good run on the festival circuit since making its premiere at the San Diego Film Festival last summer. The movie has played at festivals in Florida, North Carolina and California. "Mixed Blessings" won the award for best comedy at the Santa Clarita, Calif., Film Festival last month.

After the screening at the Senator, Hardcastle says, "Mixed Blessings" will, with any luck, have a showing on cable.

Then, she and Shelley will produce their next project, which "will either be a documentary or a comedy."

And this time, they'll stay closer to home. "We've promised everybody that we'll shoot every other film we make here!"

The Maryland premiere of "Mixed Blessings" will benefit the Family Tree, a child abuse prevention organization, and Women in Film and Video of Maryland.

A champagne reception starts a 6 p.m. in the Senator lobby, where Bottoms, Curtis and co-star Kim Lankford will be in attendance.

The film starts at 7 p.m., and the filmmakers and stars will answer questions afterward.

Tickets are $20 and may be purchased by calling ProTix at 410-481-6500 or the WIFV hot-line at 410-685-FILM, mailbox 4.

Screenings around town

Cinema Sundays at the Charles begins its eight-film spring series Sunday with a screening of "Children of Heaven," Iranian director Majid Majidi's Oscar-nominated drama about two impoverished children making their own way in Tehran. Critic Mike Giuliano will discuss the film. Memberships to Cinema Sundays are $96 ($80 for renewing members). Walk-up tickets are $15; doors open at 9: 45 a.m. Screenings begin at 10: 30 a.m., and bagels and coffee will be served.

Baltimore filmmaker Rob Tregenza will have his first retrospective at the National Gallery starting Sunday. His films "Talking to Strangers" (1988) and "The Arc" (1991) will be shown, with Tregenza present to discuss his work. On April 18, Tregenza's latest film, "Inside/Out," will be screened. Chicago Reader film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum will discuss Tregenza's work. Both shows begin at 4 p.m. and will be held in the auditorium in the East Building of the National Gallery, 4th Street at Constitution Avenue N.W. Admission is free. For more information, call 202-842-6799.

The Enoch Pratt Free Library continues its "American Command" film series with a screening on Sunday of two films about the U.S. Navy, "The Navy Holds" and "Wolfpack." Historian Thomas Cripps will lead the discussion after the screening, which begins at 2 p.m. in the Wheeler Auditorium at the Central Library.

The Towson University Film and Video Society continues its spring film series "Robots, Androids, Cyborgs and Replicants: Artificial Life in Science Fiction Cinema" on Monday with a screening of the 1983 movie "D.A.R.Y.L." and "Bubblegum Crisis 3." The screening will begin at 7: 30 p.m. in Van Bokkelen Hall Auditorium. Admission is free. For more information, call 410-830-2787.

Jewish Film Festival

"For My Baby," Rudolf van den Berg's contemporary drama starring Alan Cumming as a young man living in Vienna who is haunted by the Holocaust, will be presented by the Jewish Film Festival tomorrow at 8: 15 p.m.

Sunday's film will be "The Comedian Harmonists," Eberhard Fechner's documentary about Europe's most popular pre-war singing group (who also happen to be the subject of the fictional "Harmonists," opening next week), at 2 p.m.

On Tuesday at 7: 30 p.m., the festival will show "My Knees Were Jumping," Melissa Hacker's fascinating and deeply moving account of the kindertransport movement, which re-located thousands of Jewish children during the war in order to save them from Hitler's camps.

"Man Is a Woman," by Jean-Jacques Zilberman, will be shown Thursday at 7: 30 p.m. The film stars Elsa Zylberstein as a Yiddish singer from New York who becomes involved in a romantic triangle with two male cousins.

All screenings take place at the Gordon Center for Performing Arts, 3506 Gwynnbrook Ave. in Owings Mills.

Tickets are $6, available in advance at the Owings Mills and Park Heights Jewish Community Centers.

Tickets will also be available at the Gordon box office one hour before show time.

Pub Date: 4/09/99

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