Everyone talks about the disappointing state of Hollywood filmmaking, but nobody does anything about it - except a small number of mavericks producing and releasing independent fare.
One such group is the Shooting Gallery, a New York-based company that not only distributes non-Hollywood productions but launches them with a touch of extra fanfare.
If you live in one of the 16 cities where the Shooting Gallery Film Series is starting its second year (see www.sgfilmseries.com), you have the opportunity to see six promising new pictures between now and November, each with a discussion session on opening night. Those movies greeted with applause will go on to open-ended engagements in communities everywhere, as the well-crafted drama "Croupier" has done.
This year's first Shooting Gallery attraction is "Titanic Town," and no, it's not the sequel to a certain high-grossing Hollywood hit. Quite the opposite, it's a human-scaled look at problems in the recent past, based on the true story of a middle-aged Irishwoman who became so outraged by sectarian violence in her neighborhood that she decided to wage a war for peace, with or without the help of friends and family.
"Titanic Town" is more a personal comedy-drama than a political study or a polemical tract. It's fueled by Julie Walters's feisty performance - perhaps her best since "Educating Rita," which brought her an Oscar nomination - and an easygoing subplot about a teenager's first love affair. It's not great cinema, but it's a far cry from overbudgeted Hollywood heroics, and that's a recommendation in itself.
The fall Shooting Gallery series will pick up more steam Sept. 15 with Laurent Cantet's superb "Human Resources," about a young Frenchman whose new job causes family strife. Next come Jason Priestley's "Barenaked in America" (Sept. 29), Tony Barbieri's "One" (Oct. 13), Bahman Ghobadi's "A Time for Drunken Horses" (Oct. 27), and Sabu's "Non-Stop" (Nov. 10).
*'Titanic Town,' not rated, contains violence and vulgarity.
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