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Sundance Review: ‘Where Is Kyra?’ Seeps Into the Dark Side of the Metropolis

So much of so many film festivals — Sundance especially — feel enormously focused on metropolitan life, New York City in particular. In Where Is Kyra?, director Andrew Dosunmu finds fertile ground in this well-worn location. Starring an against-type and utterly fascinating Michelle Pfeiffer as the titular Kyra, the film narrows in on the tragedy of getting old in America.

Written by Darci Picoult and lensed by the great (and recently Oscar-nominated) Bradford Young, this film lives in the shadows, both visually and conversationally. Kyra is an unemployed, middle-aged woman looking after her elderly mother (Suzanne Shepherd). After her mother’s death, she finds herself alone in a big, noisy city with no money and a sufficient lack of job prospects. When her credit card is declined trying to buy a drink at a local bar, a handsome neighbor named Doug (Kiefer Sutherland) enters the picture.

In handling her mother’s affairs,
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Sundance Film Review: ‘Where Is Kyra?’

Sundance Film Review: ‘Where Is Kyra?’
There’s an awful lot of ravishing beauty on display in “Where Is Kyra?,” Nigerian-born filmmaker Andrew Dosunmu’s startling new visual ode to life on the New York fringes, and it’s safe to say the characters on screen see none of it. Through the lens of ingenious cinematographer Bradford Young, dingy apartment corridors turn to blazing crimson purgatories, drab Goodwill ensembles turn to iridescent haute couture, and the extraordinary face of Michelle Pfeiffer remains, well, that same extraordinary face — though one senses that Kyra, the near-destitute divorcee she plays to scarring effect in this downward-spiraling economic tragedy, long ago stopped seeing anything in the mirror.

Every bit as formally exciting as Dosunmu’s previous film, 2013’s glorious Yoruba-focused drama “Mother of George,” “Where Is Kyra?” proves a cooler, less emotionally rewarding experience, with Darci Picoult’s ultra-lean script giving Pfeiffer’s fearless performance fewer notes to play as it goes along.
See full article at Variety - Film News »

Teaching & Doing

"If I am not an actor, if I am not a singer, if I don't do what I teach, who am I?" Carol Fox Prescott recalls asking herself two years ago on her way to see a student perform. Though it was not the most comfortable query the veteran acting coach had ever asked herself, it certainly was an exciting one — inspiring her to explore a new relationship between her teaching and performing. "If I wanted to continue to become a better teacher after all these years, it was time to get back on the stage," says the New York-based Prescott, a theatre actor for close to 40 years who transitioned from performing to teaching in the early 1980s. The result was her one-woman show, Some of These Days: A Jewish Woman's Journey Through Chutzpah, Passion and Pastry With Sophie Tucker. Though she performs the show in venues across the country,
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A Dirty Shame

A Dirty Shame
Screened at the Toronto International Film Festival

The Tony-winning success of Hairspray might have made him a mainstream darling, but John Waters has returned to trashy form with what is unquestionably his most outrageous film since those heady Pink Flamingos days.

A giddy sex farce starring Tracey Ullman as a repressed Baltimore resident (where else?) who turns into a raging sex maniac after receiving a freak head injury, this overheated ode to depravity and general bad taste kicks some silly smut in the face of today's conservative-leaning, post-wardrobe-malfunction society.

Granted, Waters has problems keeping it up -- the content really struggles to sustain a feature-length format -- but the picture, wearing its NC-17 rating like a badge of dishonor, should nevertheless emerge as his best boxoffice bet since 1994's Serial Mom.

Ullman is Sylvia Stickles, a generally unhappy woman with a horny husband (Chris Isaak) and a go-go dancer daughter with ridiculously enlarged breasts (an unrecognizable Selma Blair) and a stage name of Ursula Udders, whose bouts of exhibitionism have landed her in home detention.

One day en route to her family-operated Pinewood Park and Pay convenience store, Sylvia sustains a smack in the head that turns her into a card-carrying sex addict around the same time she's spotted by writhing tow-truck driver Ray-Ray Perkins (Johnny Knoxville -- a Watersian name if there ever was one), who believes her to be the long-awaited 12th apostle of erotic awakening.

While Ray-Ray, whose battle cry is "Let's go sexin'!" inducts her into his inner circle of fetishists, Sylvia's mother, Big Ethel (Suzanne Shepherd), along with libido-hating neighbor Marge the Neuter (Mink Stole), launch a campaign to take back their neighborhood from all the disgusting deviants.

Taking his stylistic cue from cautionary movies like Reefer Madness and old high school health films, Waters also throws vintage sexploitation flicks and musty nudist camp clips into the naughty mix, while his longtime production designer Vincent Peranio heightens the kitschy landscape with suggestive-looking foliage.

Waters also spent a lot of time coming up with wacky euphemisms like "yodeling in the canyon," while Ullman's Stickles refers to a part of her anatomy as her "axis of evil."

There also seems to be nothing too taboo for the rest of his willing cast, which also includes Patricia Hearst (in her fifth Waters film) and David Hasselhoff in a sequence so tasteless the late Divine would have smiled approvingly.

Fine Line

Fine Line Features presents This Is That Killer Films/John Wells production

In association with City Light Pictures

A John Waters film


Director-screenwriter: John Waters

Producers: Christine Vachon, Ted Hope

Executive Producers: Mark Ordesky, Mark Kaufman, Merideth Finn, John Wells, The Fisher Brothers

Director of photography: Steve Gainer

Production designer: Vincent Peranio

Editor: Jeffrey Wolf

Costume designer: Van Smith

Music: George S. Clinton

Music supervisor: Tracy McKnight


Sylvia Stickles: Tracey Ullman

Ray-Ray Perkins: Johnny Knoxville

Caprice Stickles: Selma Blair

Vaughn Stickles: Chris Isaak

Big Ethel: Suzanne Shepherd

Marge the Neuter: Mink Stole

Paige: Patricia Hearst

Dora: Jackie Hoffman

Himself: David Hasselhoff

Running time -- 89 minutes

MPAA Rating: NC-17

See also

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