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Indie Auteur Jim McKay Pushed Offscreen

by Anthony Kaufman
November 16, 2006 9:41 AM
2 Comments
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There's been a lot of talk in film-critic circles lately about Andrew Bujalski ("Mutual Appreciation"), as if he was the only outstanding truly indie director working today without the backing of the theatrical marketplace. Let me submit another: indie auteur Jim McKay ("Girls Town," "Our Song"), the patron-saint filmmaker of Brooklyn, whose new movie "Angel Rodriguez" was made by HBO Films with the potential of a theatrical release, but instead has already gone straight-to-cable, with a DVD release scheduled for Nov. 28. That means no reviews, no critical debate, and virtually not a peep even from the folks at indieWIRE, Greencine, etc. who usually go out of their way to cover such films.

If you want to see Jim's latest on the silver screen, your only chance may be a special free Saturday showing at the Brooklyn Academy of Music this weekend. (On Monday and Tuesday, the venue will also show his earlier efforts "Everyday People" and "Our Song").

While I guess Jim can't complain that his movies are getting financed by a division of Time Warner (a luxury that Bujalski and many others do not have), he's also trapped in an environment that no longer embraces theatrical releases for the kind of subtle, humanist character-driven dramas that he makes. Not coincidentally, McKay is directing TV episodes of "Law Order: Criminal Intent" and "The Wire," which I think shows how difficult it us for a filmmaker like McKay to survive churning out films that one day were synonymous with independent film and are now considered "too small."

When I saw the film at Toronto 2005, I wrote in indieWIRE, "Jim McKay's latest humble HBO-produced portrait of confused youth, 'Angel' sensitively captures the life of a troubled inner-city teenager, reeling from the abuse and rejection of his unloving parents. Rachel Griffiths, sporting a believable American accent, plays a counselor trying to help the boy, but the movie belongs to newcomer Jonan Everett, the latest in a long line of McKay's finds."

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2 Comments

  • philippa | November 17, 2006 7:48 AMReply

    The inverse side of that is that TV drama has got a little more risque, too. Speaking of Rachel Griffiths --Six Feet Under, and the new Calista Flockhart drama which she is also in - I do not like or frequent these but had per chance seen the premiere episode of the wonky California family - and some dvd of Six Feet.

  • Sujewa Ekanayake | November 16, 2006 10:14 AMReply

    Re: "There's been a lot of talk in film-critic circles lately about Andrew Bujalski ("Mutual Appreciation"), as if he was the only outstanding truly indie director working today without the backing of the theatrical marketplace."

    There's a bunch more the critics should consider (but i guess there needs to be pretty wide releases for that, or maybe not) in the real indie fiction filmmaking & distribution realm for outstandingness:

    Jumping Off Bridges/Kat Candler, Kicking Bird/Kelley Baker, LOL/Joe Swanberg, Dance Party, USA/Aaron Katz,
    and perhaps (if i do say so myslef :) Date Number One/Sujewa Ekanayake.

    And even though he makes smart horror type movies (not character driven comedy/dramas like the ones mentioned above), Lance Weiler & his film Head Trauma should win some kind of an award for being awesomely indie & DIY & getting his flick out in over 15 theaters this year.

    And I am sure there are more real indie self-distributing filmmakers with features out there this year. The above ones are just what's on the tip of my mind.

    All of the above mentioned filmmakers have screened their films in theaters this year, w/ out Hollywood & Indiewood support.

    But regardless, good post re: Jim Mackay. I'll check out the DVD of his new flick.

    - Sujewa
    http://www.wilddiner.com/

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