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Lady in the Lake and Lethal Weapon 4

Wednesday, Aug 30 2000
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Lady in the Lake
The best filmmakers you've never heard of, S.F. State alums David Siegel and Scott McGehee, are encamped at Saul Zaentz's Fantasy Studios editing their new feature, The Deep End. Drawn from the same Elizabeth Holding novel (The Blank Wall) that Max Ophuls filmed as The Reckless Moment in 1949, The Deep End stars the endlessly intriguing Tilda Swinton (Orlando) in the Joan Bennett role. "In a strange way, I think our adaptation is truer to the book," McGehee says. The psychologically dense plot revolves around Swinton (essaying an American accent), who finds the body of her son's closeted gay lover and stages a cover-up that leads to blackmail and worse. "We're trying to capture the loneliness of postwar melodramas," Siegel says, and the combination of wide-screen Panavision and Lake Tahoe and Reno locations (with a single day in S.F.) guarantees a wealth of gorgeous, sparsely populated compositions. (Check out their '93 debut, Suture, for a taste.)

"When the script was done, we showed it to studios," recalls McGehee. "But we knew it was a movie we could easily finance ourselves. It seemed nicely containable -- not a large number of characters and set in the present day." Since Siegel and McGehee's production company, i5, is hoping to place another of its films (Patrick Stettner's The Business of Strangers) in competition at Sundance, the strategy for The Deep End is still uncertain. They may aim to premiere out of competition at Sundance, or perhaps they'll succeed in selling the finished film to one of those aforementioned studios before the Park City hubbub. Meanwhile, Siegel and McGehee are continuing to develop a broad comedy called Snatch (likely to change thanks to the new Brad Pitt flick of the same name) that has had Jeff Goldblum, Nigel Hawthorne, Victoria Abril, and James Spader attached at various points in the past several years.

Lethal Weapon 4
Robert Greenwald, the veteran producer/director of the well-meaning Abbie Hoffman biopic Steal This Movie, let fly during a recent S.F. stopover: "People can't say in Hollywood, "I'm going to show somebody recycling the garbage and that'll affect an audience,' and then in the next breath say, "But I'm going to show that same person with a gun shooting 10 people and that won't affect an audience.' There's an effect. You send somebody to the movies to see killings night after night, it has an effect. Our poster shows Vince [D'Onofrio, who plays Abbie] holding a joint. The MPAA wouldn't let us, so we had to put a sticker over the joint that says, "Steal This Sticker.' But as Robbie Conal, the political poster artist who created it, said, "I can't show him with a joint, but if I put a gun in his hand it would be fine.' Absolutely correct, and that's insane." ... The Mill Valley Film Festival (Oct. 5-15) will honor East Bay indie stalwart Rob Nilsson with a clips-and-onstage-interview tribute plus premieres of his DV films, Singing, Stroke, and the shot-in-Japan Winter Oranges. ... I believe in my soul: The worst movies with the longest current S.F. runs are The Perfect Storm and But I'm a Cheerleader.

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Michael Fox

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