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SCREENING ROOM

Cinewomen Prepares Bright 'Spring' Program

June 03, 1996|KEVIN THOMAS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Cinewomen, a nonprofit organization for women in the entertainment industry, is presenting its third annual "Spring Screening," which this year will be composed of two programs of short films to be presented Tuesday and Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. at Harmony Gold Theater, 7655 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood.

The first night's program is dominated by Dianne Houston's poignant "Tuesday Morning Ride," in which an elderly, rural African American couple prepare for an outing of a significance we cannot begin to imagine.

In adapting an Arna Bontemps short story, Houston has provided a pair of splendid roles for her stars, Bill Cobbs and Ruby Dee, who play a husband and wife whose profound mutual devotion sustains each other in the face of encroaching infirmities.

Houston's film, which has warmth and humor as well as pathos, is an implicit criticism of the plight of older people in American society. Also especially notable is Barbara Rose Michels' clever "Watching Her Sleep," which finds a young woman fantasizing romantically about a drop-dead gorgeous woman in a market checkout line.

But is it a fantasy--or a painful chance encounter with a former lover?

Animation is represented by Sherie Pollack's witty "N'cest pas," in which an off-screen woman's voice expresses comical frustration at directing a dog in a dog food commercial.

Wednesday's program offers another inspired work of animation, Teresa Lang's "License to Kill, Part MCMXC," in which Lang deftly poses the question: What if animals, traditional targets for hunters, became armed with weapons themselves?

The evening's standout, as it has been in previous programs of short films, is Peggy Rajski's Oscar-winning "Trevor," which confronts with a jaunty affection the horrors of puberty for gay males and boasts a flawless performance by Brett Barsky in the title role.

Hanna Weg's "Matchbook" affords a fine role for esteemed Australian actress Wendy Hughes to shine as an elegant, ultra-formal widow, a strict mother to her teenage daughter (Ellen Blaine). Mother and daughter have been traveling constantly for about a year as the mother pursues an obsessive, mysterious mission.

Nichol Simmon's "Dry Mount" most likely will strike men and women in different ways. Told from the woman's point of view via voice-over, it is the story of a not especially attractive young woman (Shannon Rae Lutz) on the rebound, who lets a nice-looking young man (Keith Gavigan) pick her up, take her to a movie and take her home, where they have sex.

The whole film is a lament for how men use women, but never does this woman indicate that she's interested in anything but sex from this perfectly pleasant guy.

For tickets and further information: (310) 855-8738.

*

Sound Questions: Craig Baldwin's dynamite "Sonic Outlaws," which screens at the Nuart Friday at midnight and Saturday and Sunday at noon, lays out the whole question of fair use and copyright infringement in the reworking of other people's sounds and images while becoming a terrific example itself of an inspired use of found material interspersed with interviews.

Dense with ideas and humor, Baldwin's film takes as its starting point an Island Records lawsuit against the Oakland-based noise band Negativland, claiming that it had infringed on the rights of the band U2 (which was once sued for parodying Roy Orbison's "Pretty Woman").

"Sonic Outlaws" is a provocative introduction to what has been aptly called "electronic folk culture."

Information: (310) 478-6379.

*

Happy Times: It's altogether fitting that for her first picture (in 1920) for United Artists, Mary Pickford chose an adaptation of "Pollyanna" (Silent Movie, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m.) because Eleanor H. Porter's glad girl is the archetypal Pickford child, bubbly yet demure and ever-smiling in the face of adversity.

Even when she's been hit by a car and may never walk again, Pollyanna bravely expresses gladness that she was able to walk when she could.

As always, Pickford's consummate artistry creates humor and pathos from what in lesser hands would surely have been mere treacle.

Information: (213) 653-2389.

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