seen @ AMC Loews 19th Street East, New York NY
The Oranges is the first movie I've ever gone to see during its theatrical run for a single scene. Actually, it was more like a shot than a scene, and it turned out to be several shots, but the point is that I didn't go for the movie itself. In fact, this was the rare occasion in which I knew absolutely nothing about the movie, neither plot nor director nor stars. So why did I go, you ask?
It was because of Vija. As I've mentioned before, she's a fine artist of considerable skill. She tends to lean towards the realistic in her paintings, but every so often, she'll experiment with a more impressionistic approach. Recently (before she started on her famous women portrait series), she went through a phase of stylized, slightly abstract paintings of animals. She did one of a crane, or perhaps a heron. Her pal Parsla had it at her place, and as it turns out, she knew a production designer who was working on this new indie film being shot in New Jersey...
Well, one thing led to another, as they say. He saw Vija's painting one day and liked it enough to include it in the movie in question, The Oranges. She had already seen it prior to last Saturday, but this time, she invited me and she even bought my ticket. How cool is that?
Alas, the painting is not part of any crucial scenes. It can be plainly seen in the background in the bedroom of Hugh Laurie's daughter in several scenes throughout the first half of the film. (I checked all throughout Google Images and couldn't find a shot of it, so you'll have to take my word for it.)
Laurie plays this middle-aged husband and father who falls in love with his best friend's (college-age) daughter, wreaking all sorts of havoc in the process. It's a trifle of a movie, but it reminded me more than a little bit of many of the 90s indie movies I'd watch when I worked video retail - no big surprise, since it included three of my favorite 90s indie movie actors: Oliver Platt, Allison Janney and Catherine Keener. The Oranges eschewed any opening credits, so seeing them as they first appeared was a pleasant surprise, since I wasn't even sure if this film would have anyone I know in it.
Back in the mid-to-late 90s, I kept up with movies through Entertainment Weekly and Premiere, primarily. I didn't need subscriptions; I'd just go into the magazine section of Barnes & Noble and read them there, although I did buy Premiere. Being a monthly, they had longer, more in-depth articles.
Anyway, this was how I learned who was who in the indie field, and I'd go to the Angelika downtown or the Lincoln Plaza uptown to see their movies. Whatever I missed theatrically, I'd see when they hit the video store, and I was quite fortunate to have worked in stores that made concerted efforts to acquire the indies as well as the Hollywood stuff.
The Oranges would've fit in well with the indie movies from this era, when the Weinsteins were still at Miramax, the field of indie distributors was wider and deeper, and there was no such thing as Netflix or online streaming. It's a light comedy with dramatic moments - nothing that'll set the world on fire, like Pulp Fiction or The English Patient, but pleasant enough for what it is, and if nothing else, another opportunity to see great character actors do what they do best.
Andi was supposed to come with Vija and me as well, but couldn't make it on time, but she did rendezvous with us afterward, to our surprise. This was the first time I had seen her in awhile; she had spent much of the past year continuing to globe-trot. Over dumplings and soup, the three of us caught up on old times and talked movies. We debated the merits and meaning of The Master for quite awhile.