A fitting week for cowboys and outcasts alike, this has been a week of bizarre dichotomies in the New York film scene as Lionsgate hosted their premiere of the “3:10 To Yuma” in Lower Manhattan. Cast members Peter Fonda and Ben Foster stopped by for the intimate event, which took place in the screening room of the Tribeca Grand Hotel. And up in Greenwich Village, the IFC Center and Filmmaker Magazine‘s series “Dialogues on Film” continued with a very special screening of Ronnie Bronstein‘s unusual first feature, “Frownland.”
A Resurgent Western Takes on Lower Manhattan
It is always an interesting collision of worlds when an independent studio makes a bigger budget genre picture. So it was perhaps somewhat appropriate on Monday night when Lionsgate hosted their New York premiere for their monster fall release, “3:10 to Yuma,” in the basement of the Tribeca Grand Hotel. The event was quite intimate despite the grand scope of the James Mangold directed Western starring Russell Crowe and Christina Bale. A classic battle of wits meets battle of brawn tale based on a short story penned by Elmore Leonard, “Yuma” features an incredibly strong supporting cast including Peter Fonda and Gretchen Mol, as well as Dallas Roberts and Ben Foster, who were present for the screening (a very pregnant Gretchen Mol had to cancel at the last minute).
The versatile Foster, whose most recent parts range from a bad tempered drug addict in Nick Cassavettes‘ “Alpha Dog” to a reoccurring love interest on HBO‘s “Six Feet Under,” spoke about the variation of work in the genre. He gave his first, and more composed, reaction, “I think every role is something a little different,” but then quickly added excitedly, “I mean, it’s a fucking Western, man.” Roberts seemed to have a different take on the situation. “It’s cool to come to the set and feel like you’ve just walked into 1870, but of course, it’s a film set…so you’re not allowed to get your own water.”
Perhaps Lionsgate is treading shallow water here with the term “independent studio,” but the “Yuma” is expected to make a big splash at the box office this weekend. Fresh off the success of his last feature, “Walk the Line,” Mangold is sure to have churned out another hit, with plenty of action to boot. Be sure to catch it when it opens in wide release this weekend.
IFC Center Brings Out the “Frownland”
Wednesday night the IFC Center, alongside but not in conjunction with their DIY Generation series, hosted a special screening of Ronnie Bronstein’s controversially subversive first feature, “Frownland.” Generating a great deal of buzz with many bloggers and film tastemakers, Bronstein’s film has been splitting audiences down the middle for its abrasive approach to unconventional filmmaking as it tells the story of a dysfunctional, estranged 20-something who is forced to commute from Brooklyn to the suburbs day in and day out to hock coupon packets door-to-door. Made on a shoe-string budget on Bronstein’s off-time from his various projection jobs around New York City, “Frownland” is truly a work of a new DIY generation, seeped with passion and unflinching determination to convey the sense of alienation that the main character feels through the versatile medium of cinema. It’s no surprise that the film won a Special Jury Prize at this year’s SXSW Film Festival and was noted for its “uncompromising singularity of vision.” It’s also no surprise that it’s garnered mixed reactions in some prestigious indie cinema hotspots.
Filmmaker Magazine, which recently named Bronstein as one of the “25 New Faces of Independent Film,” co-sponsored the screening as part of their Dialogues on Film series. The self-deprecating Bronstein was on hand for a Q & A and, in his invitation, hinted that it might be more of an apology — “Bring stones!” Though certainly leaning towards his subversive tendencies, Bronstein admits to be influenced by the films of Mike Leigh, Alan Clarke and Allan Funt. He finds a likeness in spirit with these filmmakers through their “complexities of human behavior” and hopes that is conveyed in his two year, self-financed labor of love. Despite this, and for better or worse, no one can deny Bronstein his claim to originality, placing “Frownland” in a rare class of unique cinema that clearly cannot be ignored and serving as the perfect precursor to the fall festival season in New York.