2 items from 2003
British actress Keira Knightley has topped a magazine poll as this year's top breakout movie star. The 18-year-old beauty first came to the attention of international audiences in the sleeper hit Bend It Like Beckham and continued to wow her fans with roles in summer blockbuster Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl and Love Actually. She has now just finished playing warrior Guinevere in the upcoming movie King Arthur, which is expected to expand her fan base even more. Hollywood producer Jerry Bruckheimer, who chose Knightley for both Pirates of the Caribbean and King Arthur, says, "She can act. With Keira, you don't see the wheels turning." Bruckheimer's sentiments have been echoed by Entertainment Weekly, which has named Knightley the top breakout star of 2003. Others named in the poll include Shia LaBeouf, Naomie Harris and Peter Dinklage. »
Sundance Film Festival
PARK CITY -- A dwarf inherits a rural New Jersey train station and bonds with a hot-dog vendor and an artist.
Gonna rush right out to see that one? Probably not, but that's the magic of the Sundance Film Festival. Projects that least rely on tag lines, or films that would never fit into pitch form, are the magnificent gems that can only be mined from a place like Sundance.
"The Station Agent" transcends synopsis, and this scruffy, warm Dramatic Competition entrant is the hot contender for the festival's Audience Award. It may even win the big jury prize, but juries are usually less reliable in their judgment of excellence. Undeniably, "Station Agent" is a big crowd-pleaser; it evoked a standing ovation here.
Truly not the kind of project that would generate any sizzle at Kate Mantilini, "Station Agent" plays more like a quirky, early Czech film. The 5-foot-4-inch Peter Dinklage stars as Finbar McBride. Known by the few who are close to him as Fin, he is a very private person who, by dint of his small frame, is invariably the center of unwanted attention. Daily he endures the callous remarks and jokes of strangers. Indeed, impersonal cruelties have made him retreat into a shell of isolation; by being alone, he is protected from the outside world. Fin's only passion in life is a solitary endeavor: He is fascinated by trains and works in a hobby shop devoted to them. When the owner dies, Fin finds himself out of a job but the benefactor of his employer's will: He has inherited a tiny train station out in the Jersey boonies.
Since the now-defunct hobby shop was his sanctuary, Fin retreats to his new world. He travels to the train station and sets up home there. Sleeping on the couch and living out of his tiny suitcase, he only wants to be left alone. Unfortunately, even in the country, people come knocking. He is immediately the focus of a friendly hot-dog vendor (Bobby Cannavale) who takes to Fin like a big kid encountering a newfound pet. His goofy good humor, however, rankles Fin, who retreats further into his turtlelike shell. Even while walking the country road, he can't get away from people: He is nearly run down by an erratic driver, spacey artist Olivia (Patricia Clarkson), who is in the throes of a marital separation. Like isolated molecules, they have crashed together. And, most remarkably, they come to experience a powerful personal explosion: friendship.
Buoyed by tiny occurrences and buttressed by true human needs, the narrative magically coalesces into a story of friendship and support. In essence, Fin ultimately finds that one must not endure solitude to be solitary -- that the nourishment of true friends can much better sustain an individual who needs to keep to himself. Filmmaker Tom McCarthy's storytelling prowess is so supple and so subtle that only after you have seen the film do you detect its wise theme. Overall, we just care about these three unlikely friends. The bond of their friendship is both inspiring and touching.
Wonderfully understated, "Station Agent" is a masterful film and a bracing movie experience. Its power is in large part because of the performers, most prominently Dinklage as the solitary dwarf. His performance is edgy and engaging. Most eloquently, Dinklage lets Fin's dark side show through. As the troubled artist, Clarkson colors her performance with a spectrum of understandable, conflicting emotions. Cannavale is endearing as the guileless vendor, a lunk with a heart of gold.
The technical contributions stand tall in their deference to the story's inner power. Nothing is overdone; simplicity evokes its considerable power. Stephen Trask's jaunty musical score and cinematographer Oliver Bokelberg's cogent slants bring considerable size to this lovely movie.
THE STATION AGENT
SenArt Films in association with Next Wednesday
Producers: Mary Jane Skalski, Robert May, Kathryn Tucker
Screenwriter-director: Tom McCarthy
Director of photography: Oliver Bokelberg
Production designer: John Paino
Costume designer: Jeanne Dupont
Music: Stephen Trask
Music supervisors: Mary Ramos, Michelle Kuznetsky
Casting: Hopkins, Smith and Barden
Editor: Tom McArdle
Finbar McBride: Peter Dinklage
Olivia Harris: Patricia Clarkson
Joe Oramas: Bobby Cannavale
Henry Styles: Paul Benjamin
Cleo: Ravin Goodwin
Running time -- 90 minutes
No MPAA rating
2 items from 2003
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