30 October, 2010

30 Oct - Jolene

LAUNCHPROJECTS - Ben and I attended a screening of the film Jolene last night at the Center for Contemporary Arts. The film was directed by Dan Ireland and the screenplay was written by Santa Fe's own Dennis Yares of Riva Yares Gallery. His mother Riva (pictured above) was the film's producer. The film is based on the short story Jolene found in by E.L. Doctorow's Sweet Land Stories (2004). The collection is a Faulkner-meeets-Poe narrative that, in the words of book critic Stephen Deusner "are straightforward only on their plainspoken surfaces, but they conceal a deep network of ideas that build on each other as the collection progresses. Doctorow’s characters begin to define themselves against the system and try—usually hopelessly—to work against it, not to bring it down but to halt its encroachment into their lives."

Over the course of the story the young heroine Jolene ranges from teenage wife, hitchhiker, tattoo artist, stripper, battered wife, and finally a mother robbed of her child. The story ends with Jolene only 25, a full life behind her, no notion of her future, and no one to share it with. In Doctorow's words “as alone as she had always been, a stranger in a strange land.”

The film is well done with a great cast. As Rex Reed described in the New York Times, "Sensitively directed by Dan Ireland, a co-founder of the Seattle International Film Festival who makes interesting, offbeat, critically praised movies ... Jolene has been carefully adapted by Dennis Yares from a short story by E. L. Doctorow." Reed goes further to discuss that he fears that due to Hollywood politics and distribution issues "a lot of people who crave fascinating departures from the normal Hollywood rinse cycle may never get a chance to see it. This would be a shame for many reasons, but most of all because Jolene introduces in the title role a captivating and totally original newcomer named Jessica Chastain. This movie boasts a terrific cast and Ms. Chastain not only holds her own corner of every scene, she’s the thing you want to watch. It’s a smashing debut." Be sure to track it down at a theater near you.

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