Indie film brings a pair of rising stars to town

`Boy of Pigs' turns city into Georgetown

November 01, 2006|By Michael Sragow | Michael Sragow,Sun Movie Critic

The cresting talents of Gretchen Mol, fresh off the personal success of The Notorious Bettie Page, and Cameron Bright, the child actor who provided a controversial cure for mutants in X-Men: The Last Stand, converge in Baltimore this month for the filming of a low-budget independent movie, Boy of Pigs -- a play on the Bay of Pigs.

Set in 1963, in the swirl of glamour and intrigue that turned President John F. Kennedy's Washington into Camelot, the movie traces the coming of age of a lonely 13-year-old Catholic school boy.

Bright (also memorable in Thank You for Smoking) glimpses the nude beauty of the artist across the street (Mol), and decides to find out everything he can about her.

She's one of JFK's lovers and the ex-wife of a top-ranked CIA operative. And she appears to be conducting her own back-channel negotiations among the CIA, Kennedy and the Cubans in the wake of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Producer Kevin Leydon says a combination of factors brought Boy of Pigs to Baltimore, including Maryland's wage rebates for film productions, the architecture of the neighborhoods, the hands-on assistance of the city and state film offices, and the vaunted "film-friendliness" of the area.

But a single factor brought him and first-time feature director William Olsson onto the project and attracted their top-flight cast: the distinction of Alex Metcalf's script.

Mol, he says, feels so strongly about it she's commuting between Baltimore for Boy of Pigs and New Mexico, where she's simultaneously co-starring in the big-budget Russell Crowe-Christian Bale remake of the classic Glenn Ford Western, 3:10 to Yuma. (Walk the Line's James Mangold directs that one.)

Baltimore neighborhoods such as Bolton Hill and Mount Vernon are standing in for Georgetown circa 1963. A full complement of Baltimore's film talent makes up the key crew, including cinematographer David Insley of The Wire and production designer Vincent Peranio, who has contributed to the collected works of John Waters as well as David Simon's The Corner and The Wire and Barry Levinson's Homicide: Life on the Street and Liberty Heights.

Will America lose its innocence on the big screen once again, in the wake of JFK's assassination?

Probably, but producer Leydon promises that Metcalf's deft writing ("there've been no rewrites!") and Olsson's "great eye" make it fresh.

And, for now, it will give Bolton Hill and Mount Vernon residents a chance to catch two of Hollywood's most talented and talked-about actors in the flesh.

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