by Patricia Grandjean
Jun 13, 2011
02:40 PMBox Office
Appointment Films: "Company"; "Beyond the Myth"
In the hotter months, moviegoers are enticed to their local multiplexes by a new blockbuster seemingly every weekend, which often offer nothing better than a chance to get out of the sweltering heat and enjoy two hours of meat-locker quality AC. It's a brutal season for more modest film fare that appeals to a niche audience, no matter how good the flick—which is why I wanted to call attention to two worthy "blink-and-you'll-miss-them" June releases in select Connecticut theaters.
In April, The New York Philharmonic presented a sold-out, staged concert production of Roxbury resident Stephen Sondheim's 1970 musical Company, which won six Tony Awards for its original Broadway run (including Best Musical). In his recent memoir Finishing the Hat, Sondheim wrote, "The central theme [was] the challenge of maintaining relationships in a society becoming increasingly depersonalized . . . The form which grew out of this notion combined the constant changes of tone and style characteristic of revues with the cohesive narrative tension of the 'integrated' musical. Company does have a story . . . it just doesn't have a chronological linear plot. Prior to Company there had never been a plotless musical which dealt with one set of characters from start to finish. In 1970, the contradictory aspect of the experiment (a story without a plot) was cause for both enthusiasm and dismay. Audiences kept waiting for something to happen . . . and were baffled when nothing did."
Forty years on, Company's theme seems as pertinent and its concept as daunting as ever; fortunately, the Philharmonic production (at Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall) boasts a nimble and astute cast, with Neil Patrick Harris starring as Robert (in whose mind the scenes take place), ably supported by Jon Cryer, Craig Bierko, Stephen Colbert, Connecticut native Anika Noni Rose, Martha Plimpton and Kent resident Patti LuPone. Though its run was short—four performances—Screenvision is bringing the film version of this critically acclaimed production to movie theaters nationwide for screenings on June 15, 16, 19 and 21. Connecticut theaters showing the film are: The Criterion at Greenwich Plaza, Greenwich; The Criterion at Blue Back Square, West Hartford; Criterion Cinemas, New Haven; Fairfield Cinemas at Bullard Square, Fairfield; Buckland Hills Showcase, Manchester and AMC Loews Theatres-Danbury 16, Danbury. For more information, visit companyonscreen.com; call your local theater for showtimes and ticket prices/reservations.
And now, let's segue from those who are theater-mad to those who are mad about dogs. When you think "pit bull," do you think sweet-tempered family pet who typically adores children and loves to play, or vicious, uncontrollable urban killer? If the latter, you need to see Libby Sherrill's documentary Beyond the Myth, which confronts the media's relentless demonization of the breed and the adoption of breed-specific legislation (BSL) in certain U.S. communities, a death sentence for countless dogs. In a 2009 Knoxville Magazine interview, Sherrill noted, "[BSL] has definite parallels to racial profiling and racial discrimination of people. The principles are the same, targeting a certain population based on physical characteristics. BSL is about discriminating in a country where we pride ourselves in not doing that. It's a step backward." She stresses the importance of responsible dog ownership: "Punish the deed, not the breed."
Beyond the Myth, like Company, is screening all over the U.S., and is scheduled to play the Bow Tie Marquis 16 in Trumbull at 7 p.m. on June 23. Special guest for the evening is Cherry the Vicktory Dog, one of 53 pit bulls rescued from Michael Vick's Dog Fighting Compound (as chronicled in the book Lost Dogs), now residing in a loving forever home in Philadelphia. Tickets are available at beyondthemythmovie.com ($12 advance, $15 at the door); the screening is sponsored by Bully Breed Rescue Inc. and the Meriden Humane Society.Appointment Films: "Company"; "Beyond the Myth"