The Critics: American Graffiti

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Indy Lifestyle Online
This could be the year American independent films make up for the recent downturn in quality (The Brothers McMullen, The Usual Suspects, Feeling Minnesota, Things to Do in Denver ...). Barring distribution snags, you can look forward to the following gems: Steven Soderbergh's extremely low-budget Schizopolis, a wacky, experimental caper, truly unlike any other film ever made; Victor Nunez's Ulee's Gold, an unassuming slow burner which could easily earn Peter Fonda an Oscar nomination; and Neil LaBute's devastating In the Company of Men, sure to become one of the most discussed movies of the year when it opens in August. Variously dubbed misogynist and feminist, a black comedy and a psychological thriller, LaBute's film is about two yuppies who hatch an elaborate plan to court an insecure, preferably disabled, woman; win her trust; and then simultaneously dump her, just for kicks.

1 You may remember Men Behaving Badly creator Simon Nye writing in the IoS not too long ago about the obstacles he faced in adapting his hit show for an American TV audience. Well, the problems continue to mount for the troubled series. It was announced last week that Justine Bateman, who plays the Caroline Quentin role, will not be returning in the fall; also, Ron Eldard, the unconvincing Martin Clunes counterpart, has asked for his character to be written out during the second season. Both are reportedly dissatisfied with the scripts and the revolving door of producers. The show was placed a disappointing 79th in the end-of-season ratings (a common theory offered for its poor showing is that female viewers just didn't get the jokes; the truth is, there were none to speak of). NBC may have renewed Men Behaving Badly, but come September, as a result of a kamikaze scheduling decision, it'll have to go out against The X- Files.

1 Comebacks don't get much more embarrassing than Farrah Fawcett's latest stab at being a serious artist. This month's Playboy showcases "Farrah's Naked Art special", a spread in which the 50-year-old star gets creative with the help of some paint and bubble wrap. In the accompanying interview, Fawcett talks about her passion for body-painting, revealing to us the artistic satisfaction of using her entire body "as a brush". She enthuses: "I did this incredible butt." That's not all; the piece de resistance of the Fawcett revival was a one-hour pay-per-view TV-special, in which the nude, paint-smudged actress apparently does little besides demonstrate her, er, brush strokes.

1 On Thursday night, Andrew Lloyd Webber threw a street party, complete with laser light show, to celebrate the record-breaking 6,138th performance of Cats, now the longest-running show in Broadway history (displacing the infinitely classier A Chorus Line). A depressing, hard-to-miss landmark in the heart of the Theater District, Cats has played to more than 8 million people since it opened at the Winter Garden in October 1982. Also, among the other alarming statistics provided by the New York Times, the musical has grossed $329m, pumped $3.12 billion into the city's economy, used 1.5 million pounds of dry ice and 2,706 pounds of yak hair for wigs. I have no idea what this means, but June 15 is now officially Cats Day in New York City.

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