Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB. Spain/USA/Japan, 1998. CDI, GreeneStreet Films, JVC Entertainment Networks, Overseas FilmGroup, Sogepaq. Screenplay by Brandon Cole, John Turturro, based on the play by Brandon Cole. Cinematography by Harris Savides. Produced by John Penotti, John Turturro. Music by Arnold Black, William Bolcom. Production Design by Robin Standefer. Costume Design by Roman Paska, Donna Zakowska. Film Editing by Michael Berenbaum. Cannes Film Festival 1998. Toronto International Film Festival 1998.
Too strange to be memorable, this odd mess of a film concerns a nineteenth-century minor theatre group putting on an opera. An A-list cast that includes John Turturro (who also directed), Susan Sarandon, Beverly D’Angelo, Katherine Borowitz (Turturro’s real-life wife) and Aida Turturro (his sister) are all wonderful, but clearly the script they worked from made more sense to them, because the one we’re watching makes nary a whit of it to us. Turturro’s attempt to pay tribute to the nature of art as a collaborative process falls flat, as does the movie in general, but he clearly loves his wife because he gives her all the best scenes. Her monologues alone make the film worth watching, and pull the magic lantern show into a successful realm for a few moments.