Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Kathleen Chalfant interview

During a break in a night shoot at Trumbull’s Twin Brooks Park, I sat in the driver’s seat of a huge limousine next to the amazing Kathleen Chalfant, and we talked about the movie "Isn’t It Delicious?".

(As an aside, the limousine was a prop was used in the film; the actors all agreed to work under a SAG Ultra-low Budget agreement, meaning they were only receiving a pittance to act in the movie, and they all voluntarily gave up all the usual "star" perks like limos and personal trailers. Kathleen and the rest of the cast are involved in this movie purely as a labor of love.)

CT Bob: Hello Kathleen. Tell me, what drew you to do this movie?

Kathleen Chalfant: Well, I’ve known Michael Kelly (the Director) since 2002, when I met him and Suzanne (the film’s producer and Michael’s wife) at the very first meeting of Theaters Against War (, and at that meeting the idea of the Lysistrata Project came up. The idea was that you would do productions of Lysistrata all over the world. A year later Michael had decided to make a documentary about it (“Operation Lysistrata”) and I was involved with it.

We have been friends since, and about a year ago he sent me the script for this movie. I was involved in a play at Yale and didn’t read it right away, but Michael and Suzanne came to see the play and Suzanne asked me if I’d read it, so I went home that night and read the script and wrote back and said I really, really, really liked it!

CTB: What is it about the character (“Joan”) you’re playing that you like?

KC: Joan is a wonderful character, because she’s one of those impossible people that you come to love by the end of the movie and who learns something by the end of the movie. She has a real journey throughout the movie but she’s also fierce and funny and very smart and impossible, and she’s kind of a dream character to play. I can’t imagine in my life that I’ll ever get a better part to play than Joan, so I’d be a fool not to do it. It’s a great opportunity.

(Kathleen with Keir Dullea)

CTB: How is the cast to work with on this film?

KC: It’s a wonderful cast! Keir Dullea, Mia Dillon, Alice Ripley who just won a Tony (2009) for what you have to say was a towering performance in “Next To Normal”, and the younger actors are really, really good, who I didn’t know before. Jonah (Young), Nick (Stevenson), Ally (Mingione) are all really, really good young actors! The cast for this movie is extraordinary at this level.

And the other thing that Michael has done is to use people who are non-professional actors but they’re playing the things they do in life. Often that doesn’t work very well, but in this movie it’s worked extraordinarily well. Today for instance we just shot a scene with Phil (Hines), who is a member of the Trumbull (CT) Police Department, and he was a swell policeman on camera as well.

(L-R Nick Stevenson, Alice Ripley, Keir Dullea, Kathleen Chalfant, Jonah Young)

CTB: What do you think of the way Michael is putting together this film, with it’s certain look and certain feel for such a ridiculously small budget?

KC: Well, it’s astounding what Michael and the producers have managed to beg and borrow because this is a movie with a budget of around $200,000, and we shot scenes on a fifty-one foot sailboat, tonight we’re doing a crane shot, we have the same model camera that shot “The King’s Speech”, we have a spectacular Art Department that consists of one indefatigable person named Chris Hancock, who has managed to transform raw rental space into a million dollar apartment in New York City. And we have amazing cars; a top-of-the-line Mercedes and a Ferrari, along with a vintage MG and an amazing aquamarine Jeep, and we’re sitting right now in a huge stretch limo with a psychedelic roof (laughter), and it’s going to look good.

It’s also going to look good because we have the wonderful Axel Fischer (Director of Photography) joining us from Germany, and also a crew of camera, lighting and sound whom are for a large part products of the Connecticut Film Industry Training Program. And they’re 22 years old! (laughter) But they’re really good at it.

And I have to say there are a few other things, such as the make-up and wardrobe departments, which are departments that people often don’t pay enough attention to in the making of the movie but it is their work as much as anybody else’s that ends up on the screen. And in this movie continuity has been a huge issue because we haven’t shot in anything like in script order; we shoot based on the locations we can get, and they’ve done an astounding job.

CTB: So what’s next for Kathleen Chalfant after this movie wraps?

KC: Well, my very next project is a play with the World Performance Project at Yale called “Mesopotamia” about Gertrude Bell, who was an English Arabist in the teens and 20s and a friend of Lawrence of Arabia and Winston Churchill. The play is written by Robert Myers who is a playwright and also a teacher at the American University in Beirut, where my husband and I went to lecture last Thanksgiving. And then in the spring I’m going to do another movie.

CTB: Thank you so much Kathleen, and let me just say that it’s been an absolute pleasure working with you on this picture.

KC: Thanks Bob!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

"Isn't It Delicious" at the Bethel Cinema 9/18

Come over to the Bethel Cinema on September 18th at 7:00PM for the big Connecticut premiere of the home-grown feature film "Isn't It Delicious".

Filmed entirely in Connecticut (with the exception of a single looong day in Manhattan) and crewed by many graduates from the CT Film Industry Program, the story explores the often hilarious and heartbreaking efforts of a family matriarch who finds she has little time left to make things right with her many dysfunctional relationships.

The cast features Kathleen Chalfant and Keir Dullea as the parents of adult children Alice Ripley, Nick Stevenson, and Jonah Young, and features notables such as Mia Dillon, Robert Lupone, Malachy McCourt, and Jay Patterson.

A question & answer session will follow the showing, and we expect to see some of the actors in attendance.

Tickets are available HERE for the measly price of $10 each! Get them quick because this screening will definitely sell out fast!

Friday, September 06, 2013

Jim Himes's views on Syria 9/06/13

Here is the response I received from Congressman Jim Himes (CT-04) regarding the Syrian situation:

Perhaps the most difficult decision a Member of Congress must make is the decision to go to war. I would like to share with you my preliminary thoughts on the proposed attack on Syria and provide you with the opportunity to convey your thoughts before Congress votes next week.

It is clear that many of you are appalled by the atrocity in the suburbs of Damascus, but have profound misgivings about any intervention in Syria. For my part, I am assessing the circumstances surrounding the sectarian violence in Syria and the consequences of the United States launching a strike.

This weekend, I flew to DC to attend a classified briefing with intelligence officials on last months’ chemical weapons attack in Syria. There is little doubt in my mind that Assad undertook this attack, but the case is not absolute. Considering what we went through ten years ago with bad intelligence, I want to see more.

I am troubled by the relative lack of international support for the President’s proposed attack. In contrast to the intervention in Libya, the proposed US strike does not enjoy the support of the UN, of NATO, or of the Arab League. An alliance comprised of Sunni Gulf monarchies with questionable human rights records, and France, the former colonial power in Lebanon and Syria, and only a handful of other countries - mostly without significant military resources of their own - seems insufficient to me.

Most importantly, it is very unclear what would follow a strike. The Syrian civil war is complex and unpredictable, with meaningful risk of regional expansion, including into Israel. As a member of the House Intelligence Committee, I can say with some authority that a strike and ensuing chaos opens the possibility of chemical weapons falling into the hands of Hezbollah or al-Qaeda affiliated rebel groups. Hezbollah or Iran could respond to a strike with an attack on Israel, Turkey or Jordan. If we are to get involved, we must be very clear on the specific objectives and possible consequences of any military action we may pursue.

The President has forcefully articulated the potential loss of international credibility should we not respond to the use of chemical weapons. Whatever you think of the remarks the President made on red lines, he made them, and I am concerned about what the leadership of Iran may think when a US red line is not enforced. I worry Iran may be emboldened to accelerate its development of a military nuclear capability and that Assad might use chemical weapons again if unchallenged.

As I continue to review the evidence, prospects, and possible outcomes, I want to hear your opinion. There are no easy answers in this deeply serious situation. I look forward to receiving your thoughts.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Chris Murphy's vote on Syria

Sen. Chris Murphy is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and he discusses here why he voted against the Syria resolution.

The resolution was passed anyway, by a vote of 10-7, and it will be discussed in the full Senate. But Sen. Murphy addressed issues that seems to be ignored by the President and the rush to action by leading members of Congress.

Bravo to Sen. Murphy for being a leader and a voice of reason in this increasingly tense situation. There ARE ways our nation can be more helpful in the region besides attacking Syria and attempting to topple a government that someone decided needs to go.

UPDATE: Chris appeared on Rachel Maddow earlier today.

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