Daily Archives: June 22, 2001

Lost In Their Parts [THE ANNIVERSARY PARTY]

From the Chicago Reader (June 22, 2001). — J.R.

The Anniversary Party

Rating *** A must see

Directed and written by Jennifer Jason Leigh and Alan Cumming

With Leigh, Cumming, John Benjamin Hickey, Parker Posey, Phoebe Cates, Kevin Kline, Denis O’Hare, Mina Badie, Jane Adams, John C. Reilly, Jennifer Beals, Matt Malloy, Michael Panes, and Gwyneth Paltrow.

The Anniversary Party was written and directed by two actors, Alan Cumming and Jennifer Jason Leigh, who created all the parts specifically for themselves and actors they knew. So it’s no surprise that a handful of the characters at this dusk-to-dawn Hollywood party, celebrating the sixth wedding anniversary of Joe (Cumming) and Sally (Leigh), are themselves professional actors (played by Gwyneth Paltrow, Jane Adams, Kevin Kline, and Phoebe Cates, the latter two a real-life couple whose son and daughter are also featured). The other guests are different sorts of people: a film director (John C. Reilly), Joe and Sally’s business managers (Parker Posey and John Benjamin Hickey), a photographer (Jennifer Beals), a musician (Michael Panes), and the next-door neighbors (Mina Badie and Denis O’Hare), awkward mixers who’ve been invited mainly because they’ve been threatening to sue Joe and Sally. (The husband, a novelist, claims that the barking of their dog disrupts his work.) But existentially and psychologically, everyone at the party is an actor.… Read more »

Bullet on a Wire

This peculiar, locally made black-and-white feature by Jim Sikora premiered at the Chicago Underground Film Festival in 1996 and surprisingly it’s been screened here only once since then, despite the fact that it’s enjoyed well-received runs in both New York and Los Angeles and played at European festivals. Apart from John Terendy’s effective cinematography, the film is notable for its impressive leads: Jeff Strong is creepily enigmatic as a misfit whose gratuitous phone prank, referred to in the title, leads to a murder and the subsequent incarceration of a young woman (a superbly composed Lara Phillips) who was the patient of his sister (Paula Killen) at a health clinic. The style is mainly classic low-rent noir, but Sikora adds a few interesting touches, such as Strong evaporating from certain shots rather than making conventional exits, a few striking freeze-frames toward the end, and some odd uses of music by the Denison-Kimball Trio. Joe Carducci collaborated with Sikora on the script; with David Yow and Richard Kern. 83 min. Showing as part of “Starring Chicago!,” the Film Center’s retrospective of films shot or set in Chicago; Sikora will attend the screening. Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State, Friday, June 22, 8:30, 312-846-2800.… Read more »