Neck-rophilia

I doubt that Tarantino looks to Gene and Rog for advice, but I think it's poor advice. He might want to continue carving himself a niche as a reliable character actor and funny talk-show guest. It'll give him something to do in coming years, if he can't come up with anything fresher than From Dusk Till Dawn.

Last Summer in the Hamptons: Directed by Henry Jaglom; with Viveca Lindfors, Victoria Foyt, Melissa Leo, Martha Plimpton, Roscoe Lee Browne, Roddy McDowall, Ron Rifkin and Holland Taylor. RatedR. (At Valley Art Theatre in Tempe.)

The current Jane Austen vogue is proving lots of fun, so here's hoping that the quieter resurgence of interest in Chekhov takes off in the same way. Michael Blakemore's Country Life and Louis Malle's Vanya on 42nd Street were both Uncle Vanya redux, and the latest gab fest from writer-director Henry Jaglom, Last Summer in the Hamptons, takes off from The Cherry Orchard.

Jaglom's film is about the final season spent by a famous theatrical family, along with the members' various lovers, friends and hangers-on, at a country estate that is soon to be sold. The matriarch (the late Viveca Lindfors), a movie star long since turned acting teacher, stages a workshop each summer at the estate, featuring her students and kin, and helmed by her son-in-law (Andre Gregory), an avant-garde director. The final summer's production, appropriately enough, is to be The Cherry Orchard.

Along with preparations for the show and the visit of a young movie star (Victoria Foyt), other crises and tizzies, some lighthearted and some darker, arise and interweave. The film never reaches the level of Eating, Jaglom's minor classic of sad, funny, muckraking naturalism.

On the other hand, Last Summer in the Hamptons seems far less pointless, listless and self-indulgent than Jaglom's previous two films, Venice/Venice and Babyfever. The scenes depicting acting "exercises" and other modern theatrical pretensions are painfully funny because they're accurate--anyone who has worked in the theatre will laugh and wince.

Best of all, the movie provided a swan-song star part for Lindfors, that superb, perennially underrated actress, who here seems like a serene old priestess in the final hours before she's to be made into a goddess. For this performance, if for only a little else, we can be grateful to Jaglom for the film.

Ever and unjustly treated as the poor cousin of the fiction film, the documentary feature gets showcased in a new ASU West Film Society series, starting Friday at 7:15 p.m. with Michael Apted's 1985 28 Up, and running weekly (except March 15) through May 3. Featured are more than a dozen films, all but one of them (Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will) from within the past 20years.

The selections range from Michael Moore's cheeky Roger & Me (March 22) to Barbara Kopple's towering Harlan County, U.S.A. (February 23), two very different films about labor struggles; and from Errol Morris' riveting The Thin Blue Line (February 2) to Ira Wohl's heartwarming, Oscar-winning Best Boy (March 8). The list is studded with must-sees. More info can be had by calling 543-2787.

Directed by
Michael Almereyda; with Elina Lswensohn, Peter Fonda, Martin Donovan, Galaxy Craze, Jared Harris, Suzy Amis and Karl Geary.

Rated

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