Newport Beach Film Festival has strived in recent years to build something of an Orange County film scene, partnering with art museums, theater chains and a historic moviehouse to present special film screenings beyond the festival's springtime filmapalooza (which this year runs April 20 through 30; call 949-253-2880 for details). The festival in December launched the Orange County Film Society to formally extend these cinematic offerings—from the studios as well as indies, and featuring discussions with filmmakers, critics, curators and scholars—year round. Membership has its privileges: these events are free to those who ponied up $175 yearly membership dues (or $300 per couple). Members also get 10 tickets to regular festival screenings before they go on sale to the public.
Marilyn Hotchkiss' Ballroom Dancing & Charm School, which has a limited March 31 opening in New York and Los Angeles, is screened for OC Film Society members on Tuesday. Written and directed by Randall Miller, based on his award-winning 1990 short film of the same name, the rom-com centers on a baker (Robert Carlyle) whose obsession with his wife's suicide is overtaken by an obsession to fulfill a dying man's dream to reunite with a lost childhood love at a ballroom-dancing school. You know Carlyle from his turns as psychopath Begbie in Trainspotting and out-of-work-laborer-with-a-heart-of-gold Gaz in The Full Monty; his Frank Keane in Marilyn Hotchkiss' obviously falls somewhere in between.
Also starring Marisa Tomei, John Goodman, Sean Astin and Mary Steenburgen, and featuring cameos by Camryn Manheim, Adam Arkin, Sonia Braga, Ernie Hudson and Danny DeVito, Marilyn Hotchkiss' Ballroom Dancing & Charm School was described as "a magical work not to be missed" by Sundance Film Festival director Geoffrey Gilmore. But Variety critic Dennis Harvey found it a "completely formulaic . . . shamelessly contrived crowdpleaser." Hey, just like Platoon!
You be the judge—before everyone else.
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Orange County Film Society presents Marilyn Hotchkiss' Ballroom Dancing & Charm School at Regency Lido Theater, 3459 Via Lido, Newport Beach, (949) 253-2880; www.ocfilmsociety.org. Tues., 7 p.m. Free to Film Society members.