Before Viggo Mortensen appeared as Aragorn, the Lord of the Rings eye-candy for all mothers in the theater, and before Liev Schreiber showed up in Wolverine with claws, they both shared the screen with Diane Lane in a steamy flick set in the steamiest of times: 1969.
Walk on the Moon, an updated Lady Chatterley's Lover mixed with a little rock music and chutzpah, follows Pearl Kantrowitz, a frustrated—although one might guess that being married to Liev Schreiber and his abs wouldn't be that terrible—wife and mother from Brooklyn who finds herself having an affair with a charming hippie (Mortensen) during her family's vacation in the Catskills. Yes, ladies, Viggo Mortensen is totally ripped. And young and tan. But there's more than acid trips, first dates with Mary Jane and a blush-worthy scene in a waterfall going on in this look at the dynamics of a specific year in history. Sebastopol resident and Moon screenwriter Pamela Gray explains that Pearl's affair and reawakening all coincide with the then-tumultuous state of the country. "I was fascinated by the conjunction of that historical moment with a family being in the geographical vicinity of one of those revolutionary experiences, in this case Woodstock," Gray says. "At that time, it was the world of that Jewish bungalow colony community that was stuck in the 1950s."
In one of the best scenes of the film, a few wayward hippies are spotted stark naked and bathing in the recreational lake on the campgrounds. All the respectable parents break into a sprint to retrieve their gaping and giggling children from the now-contaminated water, while the hippies give a few dazed smiles and peace signs before leaving.
"That was a very volatile summer where there were different kinds of boundaries being crossed for the first time," Gray remembers. "Walking on the moon, a festival like Woodstock, even the Kennedy Chappaquiddick scandals were new for that period. There was this sense of the world turning on its axis in a different way."
Inspiration for the plot came directly from Gray's past; she describes spending identical summers with her family as a teenager, experiencing the shifts and changes in the country. "I spent every summer at places like those until I was 16," Gray recalls. "I remember watching hippies walk to Woodstock through the chain link fence. I had that memory for my entire adult life—two worlds happening simultaneously."The Rialto Lakeside Cinemas originally screened the film 10 years ago as part of the Sonoma County Jewish Film Festival. Gray says she contacted proprietor Ky Boyd about the 10-year anniversary of the film, and the two decided the timing was just right; 2009 marks the 40th anniversary of man's first steps on the moon, and Taking Woodstock, a new film that takes a comic, star-studded look at the staging of the raucous musicfest, is also due to appear at the Rialto at the end of August.
"I thought it would be a great pairing with Taking Woodstock, because that's a contemporary movie dealing with the same experiences I dealt with," Gray says. "Ky is going to have a conversation with me after the film, and I'll talk about that summer, some of the behind-the-scenes stuff and the history of the film."Walk on the Moon scored a spot on Entertainment Weekly's "50 Sexiest Movies Ever," coming in at No. 9. Whether that's due to a focus on the sexually charged atmosphere of the time or just Diane Lane covered in body paint, swaying along with the masses at Woodstock, is hard to say."I think it's worth celebrating what it means to look back on those events," Gray says. "We didn't have the kind of marketing that's available to indie films today when it came out, so I'm happy that there's a chance for people to see it again."
Relive history and check out Diane Lane's Brooklyn accent in 'Walk on the Moon' on Wednesday, Aug. 19, at the Rialto, 551 Summerfield Road, Santa Rosa. One screening only, 7:15pm. $7&–$10. 707.525.4840.
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