See the movie, then see it analyzed



May 31, 2002|By Michael Sragow | Michael Sragow,SUN MOVIE CRITIC

A suggestion for novice cineastes: Plunk down $15 to see The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys Sunday at Cinema Sundays at the Charles (the bagels get sliced and the coffee starts pouring at 9:45 a.m., the movie starts at 10:35 a.m.), then two weeks later watch the latest episode of the documentary program Anatomy of a Scene on Sundance Channel (at 7:30 p.m. June 16). It should hook the uninitiated on both experiences.

Cinema Sundays features an energetic after-movie give-and-take between guest speakers and the audience - and The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys, which stars Kieran Culkin and Emile Hirsch as eighth-grade Catholic-school boys on a collision course with a dictatorial teacher (played by co-producer Jodie Foster), promises to spur all sorts of discussions about adolescence, friendship and, of course, Catholic education.

I haven't seen the movie, but I have watched Anatomy of a Scene: The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys - a typically smart and informative series entry. Each episode of Anatomy of a Scene swiftly sets the context for a movie and then breaks down a pivotal or revelatory scene. This approach especially suits The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys because the making of it posed diverse challenges: adapting an episodic novel, mixing live-action and animation, and staging an emotionally charged scene with a badly stuffed prop dog. Anatomy of a Scene: The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys will also air on Sundance at 8:30 p.m. June 20 and at 11 p.m. June 26.

Little Italy lineup

The Little Italy Open Air Film Festival, presenting a mix of classic and contemporary movies at 9 p.m. on Fridays at the intersection of High and Stiles streets, has announced its 2002 schedule, starting with the perfect July 5 film: Yankee Doodle Dandy, the 1942 musical biography of songwriter-entertainer George M. Cohan. As Cohan, James Cagney gives one of the great screen performances, creating a Horatio Alger hero with chutzpah - a wisecracker and flag-waver rolled into one. The rest of the schedule includes Moonstruck, July 12; Forrest Gump, July 19; Shrek, July 26; Life is Beautiful, Aug. 2; Grumpier Old Men, Aug. 9; Il Mostro (a Roberto Benigni comedy), Aug. 16; Tea with Mussolini, Aug. 23; and the by-now traditional Cinema Paradiso, Aug. 30.

Advance screening

"Every film festival on the planet tries to get Miramax to pay attention," says Maryland Film Festival director Jed Dietz; after all, Miramax is still America's leading source of breakout foreign-language films and American art films. The company has taken notice of Maryland's festival, providing it with an advance print of the mid-summer release Tadpole - a comedy about a boy (Aaron Stanford) who falls in love with his stepmother (Sigourney Weaver) - for a benefit screening at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Charles.

"This is generous of them and the beginning of a real relationship," says Dietz, who credits Cecily Matthai, the sister-in-law of Miramax chief Harvey Weinstein, for making it happen. "Cecily is one of those incredible people who just stepped forward to help; she lives in Baltimore and loves our festival."

Leading boy-man Stanford and director Gary Winick will attend the screening. A champagne-and-chocolate reception follows. Tickets are $10 for the public and free for "Friends of the Festival."

Gay, lesbian benefit

"Somewhere Over the Rainbow: Tough girls and sissies and tyrannies, oh my!": That's how CAmm (Creative Alliance Moviemakers) has headlined its Thursday screening and mixer to benefit the Gay, Lesbian, Trans-gendered Community Center of Baltimore. The screening half of the evening showcases the work of local filmmakers Paula Durette (Ladies Tea, Nesting Season) and Catherine Pancake (I Want It That Way), as well as New York-based Ira Sach's Lady and L.A.-based Q. Allan Brocka's Rick & Steve: The Happiest Gay Couple in All the World - which animates lesbian and gay Lego people. The fun starts at 7:30 p.m. at Creative Alliance, 413 S. Conkling St. More information:

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