Maryland Film Festival founder Jed Dietz pronounced last Sunday's Barry Levinson Home Movie Marathon at the Charles Theatre a resounding -- and somewhat surprising -- success.
"It was a hoot," Dietz said of the five-movie marathon, which included Levinson's trilogy of Baltimore-set films ("Diner," "Tin Men," "Avalon"), as well as his documentary "The Original Diner Guys" and "Liberty Heights," which opens at the Senator today.
Dietz estimated that between 150 and 200 people showed up for "The Original Diner Guys," the day's first movie. "And when Gabe [Wardell, the Maryland Film Festival's program consultant] asked how many people intended to stay the whole day, all the hands went up." What's more, Dietz added, at the end of the day, when the marathon screened "Liberty Heights," Wardell asked how many had been there the entire day. The same number of hands went up again.
The response far exceeded the organizers' expectations. "Having no clue what would happen, we went in with the hypothesis that maybe 10 or 15 people would try to get through the whole day," he said, adding that two people took a train from New York to attend the marathon.
Dietz said the festival would continue to sponsor similar marathons dedicated to a single director. "It encouraged all of us very much about the extra power of one of these marathons, to the extent that, if you get through it, you really do see a guy's artistic vision in a way you just can't see singly. We will definitely do more."
Making `The Connection
"The Connection," Jack Gelber's play that has been re-imagined in West Baltimore by director Steve Yeager ("Divine Trash," "In Bad Taste"), will have its final performances this weekend at Villa Julie College. The play will be performed at the Inscape Theatre, 1525 Greenspring Valley Road, tonight and tomorrow night at 8. A matinee performance will be added at 2 p.m. Saturday. Admission is $7.50 ($5 for students and seniors). For reservations and information, call 410-602-7229.
Sherlock's movie career
Sherlock Holmes in the movies will be examined (deductively, no doubt) at the 20th Annual Program of Talks presented by the Six Napoleons of Baltimore, the Carlton Club and Watson's Tin Box, in conjunction with the Enoch Pratt Free Library.
The talks, to be held tomorrow at the Wheeler Auditorium of the Enoch Pratt Central Library, will also address Holmes on the radio and the detective's attitudes toward women.
The program will run from 10: 30 a.m. until 1 p.m. Admission is free. The Enoch Pratt Central Library is at 400 Cathedral St.
Ang Lee's `Devil'
Cinema Sundays at the Charles will present "Ride With the Devil," directed by Ang Lee ("Sense and Sensibility," "The Ice Storm"), this weekend. The Civil War drama stars Tobey Maguire, Skeet Ulrich and the pop star Jewel. Shawn Cunningham, director of the Baltimore Civil War Museum and free-lance film writer, will lead the post-screening discussion. Four film "mini-memberships" are available for $56 ($48 for renewing members). Walk-up tickets are available for $15 when doors open at 9: 45. The screening begins at 10: 30.
`Maltese Falcon,' `Big Sleep'
The Charles resurrects its calendar series Wednesday with a classic film noir double feature. "The Maltese Falcon" (1941), John Huston's incomparable whodunit (not to mention whadizzit) starring Humphrey Bogart, and "The Big Sleep" (1946), in which Bogart steams up the screen with a blossoming Lauren Bacall, will also be shown Thursday.
Standouts on this season's calendar include a brand new print of Jean Renoir's 1937 war film "The Grand Illusion"; a Hong Kong action series; a Jack Hill double feature of "Coffy" and "Foxy Brown" and the rarely seen "My Breakfast with Blassie," in which the late comic Andy Kaufman interviews wrestler Fred Blassie, a la "My Dinner With Andre." Stay tuned.
`Detention' in video
Darryl LeMont Wharton recently announced that his directorial debut, "Detention," is available in video stores. The taut, occasionally explosive social drama, in which a group of high school students cope with pressures in their school and personal lives with the help of a caring teacher, was filmed in 1996 in Baltimore, when Wharton was a writer on "Homicide: Life on the Street." The award-winning movie, a favorite on the festival circuit last year, features solid performances from its cast of emerging local actors, most notably Justin Black, Keisha Harvin and John Hall. Wharton, who divides his time between Los Angeles and Baltimore, recently wrapped up a run of his play "Frieda Slave" at L.A.'s Hudson Backstage Theater and is currently shopping around his next script, a contemporary romance called "No Conscience."