EVERY SO OFTEN a film comes along that captures the zeitgeist of a community in peril. In Harvest, debut filmmaker Stuart Burkin does just that with a Pennsylvania farm community that's dying at the hands of development and '90s-era politics. Packed with familiar faces--including Dawson's Creek heartthrob James Vander Beek and film veteran Jeffrey DeMunn--the story focuses on rural farmers who turn to marijuana as a cash crop to keep their family property. When the DEA comes in to investigate, viewers are presented with America's decades-old dichotomy between rural livelihood and urban condescension. As expected in an indie film, some actors are better than others: Particularly miscast are Mary McCormick as a DEA agent and John Slattery as a sheriff, and Evan Handler (Shrug from It's Like, You Know) is a bit too affable to portray a greedy dope dealer.
Harvest screens on Saturday, Aug. 7, in a special event at Valley of the Moon Cinema. A panel discussion with the director and actors starts at 7:30 p.m.; the film rolls at dusk. Diane Anderson-Mishall
BRENDAN FLETCHER, the actor who plays the troubled young title character in Jimmy Zip, has one of those mutable faces that occupies the peculiar aesthetic twilight zone where ugly wraps back around to beautiful. Come to think of it, that might also be a good way to describe this film, a frustratingly uneven exploration of the intersection between art and capitalism, which careens wildly between sublime insight and mundane clichés.
Jimmy Zip (as in zero, nada, nothing, which is how the adults in his life tend to see him) is a 16-year-old pyromaniac who flees an abusive stepfather for life on the streets. To survive in the big city, he takes a job as a runner for a yuppie drug dealer named Rick. But then Jimmy encounters Horace, a homeless assemblage artist who desperately wants to be Jimmy's mentor. Rick wants to make money, Horace wants to make art, and Jimmy isn't sure what he wants. Haunted by dreams of fiery judgment, Jimmy's choice is simple: he just has to decide whom to betray.
Jimmy Zip screens on Friday, Aug. 13, at 7 p.m. at Sonoma Cinemas. Patrick Sullivan
From the July 29-August 4, 1999 issue of the Sonoma County Independent.
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