Among the various notable offerings in the AFI Film Fest this week is its Mid-Fest Gala presentation, "Last Summer at the Hamptons" (Monica 4-Plex, Saturday, 4:20 and 9:10 p.m.; Oct. 31, 4:40 and 9:15 p.m.).
Director Henry Jaglom co-wrote this work of mature, wry wit and charm with his actress-wife Victoria Foyt, who plays an exceptionally elegant and beautiful Hollywood star overwhelmed by a vast and complex theatrical family, headed by an enduringly elegant and stylish Viveca Lindfors, playing close to her glorious self.
Typical for Jaglom, the film has a large and sophisticated cast of mainly familiar faces and also introduces playwright Jon Robin Baitz in a knockout acting debut.
For AFI Film Fest information and tickets, call (213) 466-1767.
First-Rate 'Two': Eugene Martin's "Two Plus One" (Monica 4-Plex, Saturday and Sunday at 11 a.m.) has so much going for it that it deserves a regular engagement.
Each week or so seems to bring yet another low-budget production of some merit, but few are as accomplished and mature as this sleek, succinct rendering of a relationship in transition. Martin has real style and perception, his film looks great and has a moody, distinctive score that can hold its own with the year's best.
Martin may be based in Philadelphia, but he easily transcends the label of regional filmmaker. Eve (Deirdre Lewis) is a video artist increasingly consumed by her work while her longtime lover Mark (William Sage, who starred in Hal Hartley's "Simple Men") finds himself having to decide whether to try to open his own copy shop, envisioning a chain, or whether to get an MBA at Wharton.
As individuals and as a couple they are at a crossroads, with Eve finding herself spending an increasing amount of her time with a former college classmate, Julian (Tony Vinto), a talented and ambitious dancer-choreographer. The way Eve and Mark sort out their emotions is refreshingly adult. Martin is refreshingly unafraid to show his people as being of superior intelligence and capable of thinking beyond themselves.
Indeed, it is worth pointing out that Martin dares to present Mark's business acumen as admirable--and even to suggest that it in no way hinders his understanding of Eve's artistic aspirations.
Information: (310) 394-9741.
Going 'Public': Prior to the current release "The Usual Suspects" director Bryan Singer, in his feature debut, and writer Christopher McQuarrie (plus writer Michael Feit Dougan) collaborated in 1992 with "Public Access" (Sunset 5, Fridays and Saturdays at midnight, Saturdays and Sundays at 11 a.m.), which won the grand jury prize at Sundance in 1993. Why this highly original, wonderfully assured and thoroughly unpredictable fable is surfacing only now is mystifying.
Ron Marquette stars as a tall, polite, well-dressed young man who arrives at an inviting-looking small town, rents a room in the elderly ex-mayor's humble home and easily acquires a Sunday 7 p.m. slot on the local public access TV outlet.
On his first show he sits down, looks into the camera and asks his viewers to call in to answer his question as to whether anything is wrong. He's getting up to leave when the phone finally rings, and a woman with great hesitancy speaks of a troubled family that worries her. That's all it takes for his phone to start ringing in earnest.
Just as the film seems to be progressing in a Capra-esque fashion with the show becoming an instrument of uncovering a grievous civic misdeed it takes a thoroughly unsettlingly course. Can it be that Marquette's relentlessly cool newcomer could be Satan in a business suit?
Singer wisely leaves us to come up with all the answers to the various questions he provokes; at the very least, this deceptively casual little film will make you think twice about the virtues of public access TV.
Information: (213) 848-3500.