News & Events

Farrelly Brothers join Michael Corrente at The JPT for Special 20th Anniversary Screening of "Outside Providence"

By Ken Abrams -May 2, 2019/ What's Up Newp

What started as just an event idea during a discussion between What’sUpNewp, Jane Pickens Theater, and Narragansett Beer recently, turned into a night that many movie fans will never forget.

What’sUpNewp co-hosts a series of “throwback films” at Jane Pickens Theater annually, during a recent conversation with Narragansett Beer, a primer sponsor of their 2019 movies, brought up the conversation of what movies they could show that included the famous ‘Gansett Tall Boy in the movie.

Enter Outside Providence, Jaws, etc.

It wasn’t soon after that What’sUpNewp and Jane Pickens Theater decided to show the 1999 classic Outside Providence for a fun 20th Anniversary Celebration and an ode to movies made in Rhode Island.

Fast forward to last night, where the Movie Director, entire writing team, author of the novel, cinemotographer, and many who were responsible for the film surprised a sold-out audience at Jane Pickens Theater.

Director Michael Corrente was the only special guest to be announced for a q&a following the film, once his co-writers and friends Peter and Bobby Farrelly heard about the event, they decided to join in on the fun as well.

Add Richard Crudo, Cinemotographer for the film and the movie set designer/the real-life characters/ and other members of the making of the film and it turned into a true 20th Anniversary celebration and party.

Corrente and The Farrelly Brothers took the time to shake hands and meet some of their adoring fans before the film started and while Justin Pomfret and The Travelling Wanna B’s entertained the crowd from the main stage.

Corrente could be heard talking to fans about other movies he’s made over the years, like Kingpin and Federal Hill. While Dumb & Dumber, Something About Mary, Me, Myself, & Irene fans couldn’t help but share their favorite memories and scenes of those films with The Farrelly Brothers.

Peter Farrelly, who just won 2 Oscars as Director of Green Book, was an excitement for many to see and received a thank you from many in the audience for his “Thank You to Rhode Island” recently from the Oscar stage.

Following the film, the sold-out crowd stuck around for a q&a hosted by Steven Feinberg, Executive Director of the RI Television & Film Office, with Corrente, the Farrelly Brothers, and Crudo.

For all of the gentlemen, this was the first time that they had seen the film in “15 to 20 years” and loved seeing the film once again on the big screen. “The movie has held up so well over the years,” all of them said at some point during the q&a.

The Farrelly Brothers and Corrente also gave fans a little hope, they answered an audience question and confirmed that they would love to work together again soon on a film, and even polled the audience to see how they would feel about a follow up to Outside Providence, that looks at what life 20-40 years down the road looks like for the characters.

Of course, the audience said they would love it.

Jay Leno, supporters raise more than $30,000 for Newport firefighter battling cancer

Nearly five-hundred people woke up this morning still smiling and laughing after Jay Leno’s performance at the Jane Pickens Theater last night.

This one-night-only show, which sold out in less than ten minutes, benefited a veteran Newport firefighter who is currently battling cancer.

The event was organized and put on by The Firehouse Theater, Jane Pickens Theater, and What’sUpNewp.

Leno, who recently put down roots in Newport with the purchase of Seafair, heard of the firefighter’s story and wanted to host this show in his new part-time hometown to support the first responder.

The firefighter just began his third round of chemo and is focused on fighting this with everything he has. For the sake of being overwhelmed with messages and media requests, he has asked not to be identified to the media or general public at this time.

The firefighter, his family, and dozens of fellow Newport firefighters were able to be among the nearly five-hundred in attendance for the special night.

Leno had the crowd roaring in laughter for ninety minutes, many sharing after the show that they were laughing so hard that they were crying and their sides were hurting.

It wasn’t all laughs, Leno took a moment at the end of his routine to honor all of the firefighters, police officers, nurses, and first responders in the room. He asked those who serve to stand up and the audience gave these members a loud round of applause, as well as three loud yells of “Thank You” led by Leno.

Leno ultimately closed his set with some words about humanity, its innate goodness, and by reminding people to be good and decent. His message resonating and moving many.

Leno was met with a large round of applause and standing ovation at the beginning of the show, and an even louder and larger applause and standing ovation at the end of the night. Jane Pickens Theater will pass on the proceeds from ticket sales (after some small expenses) directly to the firefighter in the coming days.

“What a wonderful memorable evening! Many thanks to Jay Leno. for
helping us raise over $30,000 to help a local firefighter,” Kathy Staab, Owner of Jane Pickens Theater stated. “We enjoyed partnering with the Firehouse Theater & What’s Up Newp and hope to work together again soon.”

Just moments after finishing his ninety minute set, Leno made his way through the crowd to spend some time with the firefighter and his family, whom he’s had several phone calls with during the last few weeks.

“I’ll never forget this night and what Jay, what you guys, and what this community did for me,” the emotional firefighter shared with me before heading home to rest before heading back to the hospital for more appointments this morning.

SOURCE: Ryan Belmore - October 4, 2019, What's Up  Newp


Bachelorette from

Those involved dish on what it was like filming with ‘The Bachelorette’ cast and crew.

NEWPORT — The drama that unfolded during Monday night’s episode of “The Bachelorette” on ABC was real. At least some of it was, said Jennifer Chapin, director of special events at Fort Adams Trust.

Viewers who tuned into the two-hour episode partially filmed in Newport in March saw a contestant named Kevin hurt his arm while playing rugby at Fort Adams. An ambulance transported him from the fort to Newport Hospital. Later on, wrapped in a sling during a super awkward group confrontation with contestant Luke P. for unnecessary roughness during the match, Kevin reveals he has a sprained shoulder, though he mispronounces his diagnosis of a sprained acromioclavicular joint.

“I saw him come off the field, he was hurting,” Chapin told The Daily News. “It wasn’t staged. There was drama because he couldn’t get his shirt off, which he really couldn’t.”

Members of the Fort Adams Trust staff and the Newport Rugby Football Club team held a viewing party at Hibernian Hall on Wellington Avenue, and they were pleasantly surprised by how much air time they received, Chapin said. “They represented the rugby guys well and the fort. And considering it was March and gray, we did pretty well.”

Extras for ‘The Bachelorette’ line up in the Fort Adams State Park parking lot Friday afternoon before filming started inside 
Planning for the episode started before Hannah Brown was chosen to be the Bachelorette, Chapin said, and the show’s production team made at least six visits to the fort before filming.

On filming day, scheduling and timing were a bit hectic. Chapin said she was there for around 14 hours and not everything went exactly as planned.

“We thought there were going to be 300 extras and there ended up being around 800,” Chapin said.

Each extra had to sign a waiver and be photographed before entering the fort, which took around three hours. Though it was a long day, the production team and cast members were a pleasure to work with, she said.

“Hannah was great. She took photos with all the staff,” Chapin said. “Overall, it was great experience and I wouldn’t hesitate to do it again.”

Matt Kearns, a Portsmouth resident, is a member of the Newport Rugby Football Club. He said the team gave contestants on the show about a 1½-hour lesson on the basics of the game before the match scene was filmed.

“It’s tough to learn the game of rugby. I’ve been playing for eight years and I’m still learning,” Kearns said. “But to go in there and to have an hour tutorial, then play in front of a large audience, I think they did pretty well. They got what they wanted for the show, showing the aggressiveness and the competitive atmosphere.”

Kearns was shown on TV standing right next to Hannah.

“At first I didn’t say anything, but she turned to me and asked me who I wanted to win and why,” Kearns said. “I knew she was from Alabama, so I threw a couple of ‘Roll Tides’ in there, and we were high-fiving. That didn’t make the cut, but we had a great time promoting the club and our sport.”

Kearns was with the group that watched the episode at Hibernian Hall.

“The Bruins were on as well, and I think it’s the first time anyone in Hibernian Hall has asked to put on ‘The Bachelorette’,” Kearns joked.

While in Newport, the crew behind “The Bachelorette” stayed at Gurney’s Newport Resort & Marina for 12 days. The cast was there for around four days, according to Resort Manager David Smiley.

Similar to Fort Adams, Gurney’s also went through several months of planning before the cast arrived at the property, and agreed that the production team was great to work with.

“Everyone was wonderfully professional and gracious. With TV shoots like this, timetables/schedules always seem to change, so we worked closely with the team of the show to accommodate last-minute adjustments to mealtimes and settings when needed,” Smiley said.

“The cast and crew made each day of filming in public spaces so easy and were extremely respectful of our guests in the process.”

Some lucky guests had the opportunity to interact with the cast, though Smiley said the shoot schedules kept them so busy that they mostly kept to themselves.

When asked whether or not they would be willing to host a reality show at Gurney’s again, Smiley said, “We would definitely explore future opportunities if the timing is right.”

Viewers saw scenes of Newport Harbor and a segment was filmed at Belcourt Castle on Bellevue Avenue. Another Newport location featured in the show was the White Horse Tavern. The restaurant’s staff also agreed the production team formed great relationships.

“Producers and directors were very professional and very gracious with both the planning and execution of the filming at the White Horse Tavern,” said Joseph Keenan, general manager of the restaurant on Marlborough Street. “There was a joint filming with the JPT with respect to a live show.”

Keenan said the restaurant closed for one day while filming the date, and the planning process began about four months prior. Other than that, Keenan wasn’t able to say much. Although the episode has aired, he and the other staff who were in the building during the date are still under nondisclosure agreements, he said. Keenan declined to comment specifically on how he felt about the fact Hannah and her date, Tyler C., appear not to have touched their entrees during their dinner conversation. Keenan also would not say what the entrees were.

Scenes from the White Horse Tavern date showed the couple in the dining room, though Twitter users were quick to point out nothing was eaten.

Following the White Horse Tavern, Hannah and Tyler C. walked through Washington Square to a private concert at the Jane Pickens Theater & Event Center. The couple danced and locked lips as country music star Jake Owen performed and a crowd comprised mostly of females cheered. Fans held up smartphones to record the PDA for posterity.

An official from Jane Pickens Theater could not be reached for comment, though soon after the episode aired, the theater tweeted: “Did you see The JPT tonight on The Bachelorette? We’re famous!”

The JPT "As Seen in The Bachelorette"

The Jane Pickens Theater & Event Center was excited to  be featured as "date" location for Episode 4 (The Newport Episode) of The Bachelorette.  Hannah B and Tyler went on a date to ur world class historic to hear  Jake Owen performing just for them(and the over 400 extras cheering in the audience!). Filmed in late March for release on June 3rd 


Aretha Film Proves She’s Queen of All Music

Aretha Film Proves She’s Queen of All Music

By ohtadmin | on April 18, 2019

By Loren King

It’s rare that the release of a documentary is a major event, but that’s what distinguishes the Aretha Franklin concert film “Amazing Grace.”

Area audiences are fortunate to be able to see the film on a big screen at the Jane Pickens. The electricity in the air at this live, 1972 recording of Franklin’s legendary, Grammy-winning gospel album “Amazing Grace,” still the best-selling live gospel record of all time, is best experienced collectively in a theater.

The reason that the film has generated such interest isn’t just that it is, well, amazing, but that it was famously tied up in litigation since the footage was first shot by director Sydney Pollack and his crew. They used four 16 mm cameras to capture the two-night concert at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles. The raw footage languished for years because none of the cameramen knew how to sync the audio and video. Once technology made the synchronization possible, producer Alan Elliott spent years editing the thousands of feet of footage shot over those two nights into a coherent film.

Loren King is an arts and entertainment writer whose work appears regularly in The Boston Globe and other publications.
Loren King is an arts and entertainment writer whose work appears regularly in The Boston Globe and other publications.
But for complicated legal and personal reasons, Franklin refused to relinquish the rights. After her death last year, her estate finally did so. All this makes the film more poignant, because it’s a celebration of glorious music and a showcase for a singular artist.

Franklin, 29 at the time, was at the height of her fame and vocal power. Recording a gospel album live in a church was a statement as much as it was a coming home. The film isn’t about her decision-making, which would have been interesting. Rather this background is woven through Franklin’s heart-wrenching, soul-stirring performance for the ages. She more than proves herself the Queen of Soul; she earns the title the Queen of All Music.

The church, fittingly, was once a theater. One can see the space high up at the rear where the projection room was and there are chairs instead of pews. It’s relatively small and the intimacy contributes to the electricity among the audience, the band, the Southern California Community Choir that backs up Franklin, and the filmmakers running around and visible in the film.

Pollack, just a year away from directing “The Way We Were,” in his bellbottoms and long sideburns, is often glimpsed with a camera on his shoulder. There is a rawness to the footage, which is sometimes shaky and out of focus, that adds to the immediacy and emotion in the room.

Franklin doesn’t say much during the concert; she leaves the patter to the event’s host, longtime Franklin family friend, the Rev. James Cleveland. Franklin takes a seat at the piano and opens the show with “Wholy Holy,” delivered in her singular powerhouse style. She pulls out all the stops with her rendition of “Amazing Grace,” a performance so transcendent that members of the choir rise from their seats, visibly stunned and moved. The camera catches Cleveland sobbing into his handkerchief.

The order of the songs is different from the album’s, and it’s constructed in a way that builds momentum. On night two, Mick Jagger is spotted in the crowd, along with gospel legend Clara Ward, one of Franklin’s mentors. Cleveland summons Franklin’s father, Rev. C.L. Franklin, to the podium, where he tells the crowd that his daughter, sitting by silently and smiling modestly, never left the church, that it has always been with her. Later, he rises to mop sweat from his daughter’s face as she sings.

Among the memorable songs are a spellbinding medley of Carole King’s “You’ve Got a Friend” and “Precious Lord, Take My Hand” and a stirring “Never Grow Old.”

Watching “Amazing Grace” feels so raw and immediate that it’s hard to believe we’re watching an event that took place nearly 50 years ago. As Franklin connects with and transcends her gospel roots, singing with glorious abandon, one wishes the film was longer than barely 90 minutes. But it’s enough for Franklin to transport us to soaring heights

Gloria Bell’ is Love Letter to its Star

Gloria Bell’ is Love Letter to its Star

FILM REVIEW Newport This Week

By Loren King

Julianne Moore plays Gloria in the comedy, romance film, “Gloria Bell.”

As if further proof were needed that Julianne Moore can play any character in any genre and light up the screen, along comes “Gloria Bell.” This deceptively light look at the inner life of a middle-aged, di­vorced woman who fends off lone­liness and boredom by dancing at a local disco is a love letter to its central character and to the lumi­nous Moore. In a seemingly effort­less performance, she anchors the movie’s story, in which not much happens, yet everything happens.

“Gloria Bell” is the American ver­sion of writer-director Sebastián Lelio’s 2013 Chilean film “Gloria,” starring Paulina García, who earned critical acclaim as the titular char­acter. It was Moore who persuaded Lelio to make an English-language version. Moore told Lelio, whose 2017 film “A Fantastic Woman” won the best foreign language film Oscar, that she would star in the new film, but only if he directed it.

“Gloria Bell” is basically a recre­ation of “Gloria.” Other than shift­ing the action from Santiago, Chile to Los Angeles, “Gloria Bell” is the same understated, gently com­ic, often bittersweet story about an ordinary woman, more or less content with her life, who takes a chance on a new romance.

Gloria lives alone, works in an insurance office and juggles rela­tionships with her two grown kids (Michael Cera and Caren Pistorius), ex-husband (Brad Garrett) and in­dependent mother (Holland Tay­lor). Her day-to-day routine and simple pleasures are revealed with brief glimpses, such as the joy she takes in unselfconsciously singing to radio hits such as Olivia Newton John’s “A Little More Love” as she drives to work.

The film is like a musical of mid­dle of-the-road pop hits. There’s Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” John Paul Young’s “Love is in the Air” and, of course, Laura Branigan’s irresistible 1980s dance hit, “Gloria.”

Gloria spends most nights danc­ing, sometimes alone, sometimes not, at a nightclub that draws an older crowd. That’s where she meets the shy, newly divorced Ar­nold (John Turturro). The two be­gin a romance that has all the awk­ward fits and starts of reality, but that radiates on screen thanks to the performances of its two stars.

It’s easy to see why Arnold would fall for the likable Gloria; it’s not as clear what she sees in him, partic­ularly when his phone lights up constantly with nagging messages from his ex-wife and his two grown daughters who constantly need him for something. Still, Arnold has his charms and we get the sense that the magic of a love interest hasn’t sparked for Gloria in quite some time.

Arnold takes Gloria to the amusement park he owns where she skydives and learns to shoot paintball. She learns that Arnold is a former Marine, with an interest in guns. That’s not even the reddest of the red flags. When they take a weekend trip to Las Vegas, Arnold inexplicably disappears, leaving Gloria alone. Moore plays this turn with subtle shifts from cautious happiness to vulnerability to defi­ance that she will not be a victim. Gloria stays in Vegas, a place that can seem desolate and lonely even under the best of circumstances.

The moody Arnold apologies and explains, and he and Gloria rec­oncile until the film’s darkly comic centerpiece scene, a dinner party at Gloria’s son’s house at which Arnold, meeting her family for the first time, makes a less-than-favor­able impression. The resilient Glo­ria bounces back again, with a final scene likely to leave much of the audience cheering.

Moore shines in every second of the film as she navigates the full emotional spectrum. An American movie centered on an ordinary middle-aged woman is enough cause for celebration. But “Glo­ria Bell” revels in its small, telling moments, such as Gloria laughing boisterously with other women in her yoga class, dealing with an annoying neighbor or a frustrated coworker, or just letting a great song wash over her. With subtlety and grace, Moore captures Gloria’s joie de vivre and her determination to keeping dancing as long as the music moves her.

Apollo 11's Trip to The Moon is Still a Thrill

Apollo 11’s Trip to the Moon is Still a Thrill

FILM REVIEW on March 14, 2019

By Loren King

The Apollo 11 moon landing took place 50 years ago, but images from that monumental event are as majestic and breathtaking as those beamed back to earth from outer space in July 1969.

One doesn’t have to be a space exploration enthusiast to appreciate what the new documentary, “Apollo 11,” delivers, which is a first-hand account, told entirely through the images and sound recorded at the time, of what is still one of the most remarkable feats of modern history.

“Apollo 11,” now in select theaters. including the Jane Pickens Theater, is directed and edited by Todd Douglas Miller. He uses newly discovered archival footage from the NASA vaults, most of which has never been seen before, mixed with news footage of astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins preparing for the mission, and stage-setting shots of the Saturn V rocket on the Cape Canaveral, Florida launch pad, as well as the massive apparatus surrounding it.

As thrilling as this footage is, just as fascinating are the images of the crowds, with cameras and binoculars and kids in tow, gathered on motel balconies and on the beach to watch the take-off, and the news crews and photographers alongside them. Their cameras and equipment may look vintage, but the technology employed by NASA on the ground and as the crew hurtles through space looks futuristic even today.

Loren King is an arts and entertainment writer whose work appears regularly in The Boston Globe and other publications.
Loren King is an arts and entertainment writer whose work appears regularly in The Boston Globe and other publications.
Miller doesn’t employ talking heads. But there is a narration of sorts provided by Walter Cronkite’s newscast over the course of the eight-day mission that grounds the viewer and offers insight into the occasionally confusing maneuvers taking place after liftoff. Miller also uses some white-on-black graphics and animation to illustrate the mechanics of the trip to the moon and the landing, which is still a heart-in-the-throat moment.

Meanwhile, on the ground at both Cape Canaveral and in Houston, the massive NASA teams that controlled the mission’s every move are tracked, with the original sound, in split-screen. This is particularly effective during risky maneuvers, of which there were many. Like all great mysteries and thrillers, just because we know the ending of this journey, it’s no less captivating to get there.

The three astronauts are revealed in small ways in the documentary, though for a closer look into their personalities and emotional states one would do better to revisit Damien Chazelle’s underrated “First Man” from earlier this year. That film focused on the emotional life of Armstrong (played by Ryan Gosling) and his journey to becoming, almost randomly, the man who took that small step onto the ashy lunar surface. That was an exhilarating moment in “First Man” and it’s pretty stunning in the documentary to view the actual footage of Armstrong, followed some 20 minutes later by Aldrin, strolling buoyantly in their spacesuits on the moon.

Collins, meanwhile, had the crucial role of orbiting the moon in his capsule until the precise moment when the two crafts had to meet up and re-engage for the return trip.

What’s just as revealing, though, are the images that the flight crew recorded from outer space, shot though the small window of the capsule. The dark craters along the edge of the moon, the shots of planet earth far off in the distance, are images that have been recreated by science fiction movies such as “2001: A Space Odyssey.” But that renders the actual footage even more spectacular and almost unfathomable.

Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins were not only witnessing these otherworldly sights, but recording them for the world and for future generations. To see them now, accompanied by Matt Morton’s majestic electronic score, is a profound reminder that, quite simply, the universe is a pretty big place and modern-day space exploration likely scratched just the surface. Just getting there was enough of a feat. That this fantastic voyage still has the power to astound and humble us is an added gift.

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And The Oscar Nominees are...

And the Oscar Nominees Are ...
By Loren King of Newport This Week.

The Academy Award nominations will be announced Jan. 22, making it one of the high holy days for movie zealots and awards season trackers. The only sure thing in a year rich with fresh and diverse films is that there will be egregious snubs and welcome surprises.

Alfonso Cuaron’s “Roma,” now on Netflix, could become the first foreign language film to win a best picture Oscar. I expect it to lead the best picture nominees, along with “A Star is Born,” Spike Lee’s “BlacKkKlansman,” Yorgos Lanthimos’s “The Favourite” and Peter Farrelly’s “Green Book,” which got a big boost with its win at the Golden Globes.

Now that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences can nominate as many as 10 films for best picture, additional nominees may include director Barry Jenkins’s critically lauded “If Beale Street Could Talk,” Ryan Coogler’s groundbreaking Black Panther,” Adam McKay’s “Vice” and “Bohemian Rhapsody,” a weak contender but one with momentum after its surprise Golden Globe win.

Even though 2018 was banner year for women filmmakers, it’s a pretty good bet that not one will be among the five nominees for best director, even though Lynne Ramsay (“You Were Never Really Here”), Debra Granik (“Leave No Trace") and Marielle Heller (“Can You Ever Forgive Me?”) captured some critics’ year-end awards.

The surprise could be Granik, named best director by the Los Angeles Film Critics’ and who could possibly make the cut. But it’s a crowded field. Lee just got his first nomination from the Directors Guild of America, so this will be the Academy’s chance to recognize him for his robust body of work with a nomination for “BlackKklansman,” his strongest film in years. Cooper and Cuaron are solid bets, with Jenkins, McKay, Coogler and Lanthimos also in the mix. I don’t think Farrelly will get a nomination, even though “Green Book” will be among the best picture nominees.

With her show-stopping Golden Globe win, the Oscar race for best actress is now tilted toward six-time nominee Glenn Close, who should win her first Oscar for her powerful performance in “The Wife.” She faces competition from likely nominees Olivia Colman (“The Favourite”), Melissa McCarthy (“Can You Ever Forgive Me?”) and Lady Gaga (“A Star is Born”), with the fifth slot open for a number of worthy candidates. I think the Academy will go with popular Emily Blunt for “Mary Poppins Returns.”

The best actor race is less competitive. Christian Bale should easily earn a nomination for his stunning transformation playing Dick Cheney in “Vice.” Rami Malek as Queen frontman Freddie Mercury is the whole show in “Bohemian Rhapsody” and deserves a nod, along with Cooper for “A Star is Born.” Ethan Hawke, who won several critics’ prizes for “First Reformed” and Viggo Mortensen (“Green Book”) look to round out the field. John C. Reilly is a dark horse but could sneak in for playing legendary Hollywood comic Oliver Hardy in “Stan and Ollie.”

The supporting categories traditionally hold surprises but seem fairly predictable this year. Regina King (“If Beale Street Could Talk”) has won most of the precursor awards and is a shoo-in. Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone both will be deservedly nominated, but they share lead roles with Colman in “The Favourite” and are in this category only because of studio awards marketing. The other supporting actress nominees are likely to be perennial nominee Amy Adams (“Vice”) and Claire Foy, who was so good in the otherwise overlooked “First Man.”

Mahershala Ali is also the co-lead with Mortensen in “Green Book,” but he’s relegated to the supporting category, a common studio awards ploy that is unfair to the actors and takes a potential nomination from a truly supporting performance. He’ll be joined by Richard E. Grant as Melissa McCarthy’s buddy in “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” After that, look for Adam Driver (“BlacKkKlansman”); Timothee Chalamet (“Beautiful Boy”) and, just maybe, the always solid and much-beloved Sam Elliott (“A Star Is Born”). Brian Tyree Henry was memorable in both “Beale Street” and “Widows.” It would be a deserving surprise if he was recognized here.

Of course, all bets are off come Jan. 22. But no matter how wrong my guesses might be, I’ll still be predicting who will take home the Oscars in advance of the Feb. 24 ceremony.

Le Divorce Director Returns to Pickens Theater

Le Divorce,’ Director Returns to Pickens Theater
By Loren King

Director and Oscar-winning screenwriter James Ivory sure loves Newport and the Jane Pickens Theater.

The legendary director of such screen classics as “A Room with a View” (1985), “Maurice” (1987) and “Howards End” (1992) has visited the JPT several times over the last few years to screen his films and chat with the audience. Ivory’s most recent visit on March 11 came just one week after he won the Oscar for his adapted screenplay for “Call Me by Your Name,” a summer romance set in Italy starring Timothee Chalamet and Armie Hammer. The honor distinguished the 89-year-old Ivory as the oldest competitive Oscar winner in Academy history.

During that visit, Ivory screened one of his masterpieces, “The Remains of the Day” (1993). Afterward, during a Q&A hosted by Chuck Hinman of Rhode Island National Public Radio, Ivory asked the crowd, “Are you O.K. with me coming back? [“The Remains of the Day”] was a big hit. The next one may be a flop. But I’m bringing it because I like it.”

Ivory makes good on that promise Dec. 2 when he’ll appear at the JPT with his 2003 comedy “Le Divorce.” Adapted by Ivory and his frequent collaborator, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, from Diane Johnson’s popular 1997 novel, the film received largely mixed reviews when it was released. The screening is at 1 p.m., followed by a 3 p.m. conversation with Ivory again hosted by Hinman.

Although many of Ivory’s films are rich with wry observational humor, “Le Divorce” is a more traditional culture-clash comedy. Kate Hudson is in winning form as Isabel Walker, a young woman who arrives in Paris from Santa Barbara to visit her half-sister, Roxie (Naomi Watts). Pregnant with her second child, Roxie is coping with a rocky marriage to a French artist (Melvil Poupaud) from an insufferable bourgeois family with Leslie Caron as the matriarch.

Caron is just one of an ensemble of delectable supporting players. “Le Divorce” also boasts Stockard Channing and Sam Waterston as Roxie and Isabel’s American parents, and Glenn Close as an expatriate American writer with a past.

With Roxie overwhelmed by domestic travails, Isabel escapes to explore Paris on her own, engaging in a series of social and romantic adventures that allow her to reinvent herself. The comedy of manners is also a love letter to romance-infused Paris, where the movie was shot.

Ivory’s films often examine the idea of finding oneself abroad, most notably in “A Room with a View,” about a young British woman and her aunt (Helena Bonham Carter and Maggie Smith) who vacation in Italy.

Before “Le Divorce,” Ivory directed two other notable films set in France. “Quartet” (1981) starred Maggie Smith, Isabelle Adjani and Alan Bates and took place in 1927 Paris, and “Jefferson in Paris” (1995) followed Nick Nolte as Thomas Jefferson when he was the U.S. ambassador to the court of Louis XVI against the backdrop of the French Revolution.

Ivory won his first Oscar earlier this year, but he was nominated three times for directing, for “A Room with a View,” “Howards End” and “The Remains of the Day,” all made in collaboration with producer Ismail Merchant. Their professional and personal partnership lasted 44 years, from 1961 until Merchant’s death in 2005. During that time, Merchant Ivory Productions made more than 40 films, with many regarded as masterpieces.

They were often joined by Jhabvala, the third member of their celebrated trio, who scripted 23 Merchant Ivory films, winning Oscars for her screenplays for “A Room with a View” and “Howards End.” She died in 2013. In his Oscar acceptance speech, Ivory paid poignant tribute to his two longtime friends and creative collaborators.

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