Tracing a journey of musical discovery

Film

Movie: The charming documentary `Genghis Blues' about a bluesman turned throat-singing competitor plays the Charles.

January 21, 2000|By Ann Hornaday | Ann Hornaday,SUN FILM CRITIC

Roko and Adrian Belic's charming and thoroughly surprising "Genghis Blues" will be offered this weekend at Cinema Sundays at the Charles.

The documentary traces the extraordinary journey of American blues singer Paul Pena (composer of the Steve Miller hit "Jet Airliner") as he discovers the ancient throat-singing musical style of Tuva, a tiny country on the Russia-Mongolia border.

Pena later finds common cause with the late physicist Richard Feynman, learns Tuvan and competes in the national throat-singing competition.

Cinema Sundays favorite Jonathan Palevsky will lead the post-screening discussion.

Six-film memberships are still available for $66. Four-film mini-memberships are also being sold for $52. Walk-up tickets are available when doors open at 9: 45 a.m. for $15. The screening will begin at 10: 30 a.m., after a bagel-and-coffee buffet.

The Charles Theatre is at 1711 N. Charles St. For more information call 410-727-3464.

A director's call

John Waters, who has a cameo role in Woody Allen's "Sweet and Lowdown," says he was as surprised as anyone to get the elusive director's phone call.

"I'd never met him, but I was a huge fan," Waters said from New York, where he's editing his next film, "Cecil B. Demented."

"My agent called me and said, `Woody wants to meet you. ... I said, `Sure.' I didn't even ask him what it was.

"I'm jealous of him actually, because he has the most desirable career of any American filmmaker, including Martin Scorsese. He makes exactly the movies he wants every year or so. Box office, reviews -- nothing seems to stop him or affect him either way."

Having read accounts of Allen's idiosyncratic casting processes -- he's been known to make decisions just by peering at actors through a slightly opened door -- Waters said he didn't ask Allen any questions until their interview came to an end.

"I said, `Is it true what I read in a book about you that when you write `The End' on a script that it's the first day of pre-production?'

"And he said, `Yes,' and I said, `I hate you.' "

Waters plays a club owner in "Sweet and Lowdown," which stars Sean Penn as a 1920s jazz guitarist, and receives equal billing in the ensemble production with Penn, Samantha Morton, Uma Thurman and Gretchen Mol.

"I'm in the film for under a minute, so hardly do I deserve my front credit," he admits, "but I have good agents."

"Sweet and Lowdown" opens today at the Rotunda.

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