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Published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on February 2, 2000. All rights
Film: Bucky Pizzarelli
When the Paterson-born jazz guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli
performed at New Brunswick’s State Theater last year, he told U.S.
1’s Richard J. Skelly about the highs and lows of more than 50 years
in the music business. Now Pizzarelli, together with fellow Garden
State guitarist Howard Alden, is in movie theaters across the nation
— ghost musician for Woody Allen’s latest tribute to jazz,
Cast as a mock documentary, with a gentle pace punctuated by a
of modern-day talking heads (Woody Allen, Nat Hentoff, and Ben Duncan
all play themselves), "Sweet and Lowdown" tells the story
of Emmet Ray, a hugely gifted but undisciplined American jazz
of the 1930s. Sean Penn plays the mustachioed and wild-haired Ray,
with newcomer Samantha Morton as a mute working girl (uncannily
of Harpo Marx and the young Giulietta Masina) who falls in
love with him. "I love women, it’s just I don’t need them,"
is Ray’s line. He also tells anyone who’ll listen, "I’m the second
best guitarist in the world — next to that gypsy Django
Reinhardt’s "When Day Is Done" from 1937 is the first music
we hear in "Sweet and Lowdown," part of a rich mixture of
’30s recordings and more than a dozen new renditions of old tunes
performed by Alden with Pizzarelli on rhythm guitar. In Paris in the
early ’30s, Reinhardt brought a romantic, bittersweet gypsy ethos
to the American jazz with which he had fallen in love, creating an
altogether original sound and style. With warm, sensuous
by Chinese Zhao Fei (`Raise the Red Lantern’) the movie’s period
include Paterson (masquerading as Chicago), and a lovely, nostalgic
vision of the Jersey shore.
Although Pizzarelli doesn’t go quite as far back as the fictional
Emmet Ray, he told Richard Skelly (July 21, 1999) how, in the early
days, he earned just $41.25 for a studio guitar session. His playing
can be heard on all the early recordings of Dion and the Belmonts,
Frankie Avalon, and Fabian. He played on Roberta Flack’s hit, "The
First Time Ever I Saw Your Face," and on Ray Charles’ original
"Georgia On My Mind."
Now 73, Pizzarelli did not come into his own as a solo jazz performer
until the late 1960s. Skelly describes his current style as
warm, and filled with exquisite, complicated runs of fingers up and
down the fretboard." These days, he can be heard in intimate jazz
clubs that include the Cornerstone in Metuchen, Shanghai Jazz in
and Zinno’s in lower Manhattan. The father of four, he has two musical
sons: John, a jazz guitarist, and Martin, a bass player. All three
family members got a rave review from the New York Times for a joint
club appearance in late January.
Allen — a moviemaker you either love or hate — made his
and directing debut in 1969 with "Take the Money and Run,"
and has produced mostly comic movies (and prurient headlines during
his breakup with Mia Farrow) almost annually since. In 1977 he won
Academy Awards for best director, best picture, and best original
screenplay for "Annie Hall," and in 1986, "Hannah and
Her Sisters" won best original screenplay. His most recent
include "Mighty Aphrodite," the winsome musical "Everyone
Says I Love You," "Deconstructing Harry," and
Yes, "Sweet and Lowdown" is a definite winner for Allen fans.
But New Jersey’s jazz aficionados will also discover here a treasure
chest of the sights, sounds, and spirit of Jersey jazz of bygone
— Nicole Plett
Confirm titles with theaters.
against experience on the football field, where Al Pacino plays a
curmudgeonly coach to a quarterback played by Jamie Foxx. AMC,
Mendes’ dark drama about two dysfunctional suburban families. AMC,
about the hardships of a Catholic childhood in the slums of Ireland,
brought to the screen by Alan Parker. AMC, Loews, Mercer,
star in a sumptuous retelling — without song — of the `The
King & I’ epic. AMC.
accidentally enters Malkovich’s mind in this Spike Jonze original.
household appliance who wants to be a man. AMC, Loews, Mercer.
of John Irving’s 1985 best-seller. AMC, Loews, Regal.
as Orson Welles, Ruben Blades as Diego Rivera, with Vanessa Redgrave
and Susan Sarandon, all appearing as America’s titans of 1930s
a male escort to repay a debt. AMC.
Destinta, Loews, MarketFair, Regal.
play an adulterous couple during World War II. AMC, Loews,
finds himself obsessed with Ashley Judd. AMC, Destinta, Loews,
of the Dolls’ author Jacqueline Susann. AMC, Loews, Regal.
by aliens to save their planet. AMC, Destinta, Loews,
Angelina Jolie star in the real-life story of Susanna Kaysen’s
to a mental hospital. AMC, Destinta, Loews, MarketFair,
in Stephen King’s prison story about an innocent man with miraculous
powers. AMC, Destinta, Loews, MarketFair, Regal.
for his heroic performance based on the life of the New Jersey boxer
framed for a triple murder. AMC, Destinta, Garden, Loews, Mercer,
brings together some intriguing characters, starring Tom Cruise.
Garden, Loews, Mercer.
portrayal of misunderstood comedian Andy Kaufman. AMC, Mercer.
novel starring Frances O’Connor and Harold Pinter. Mercer.
`Friday.’ Cube plays a fish out of water, as his family moves from
the ghetto to the suburbs. AMC, Destinta, Loews, Mercer, Regal.
Banderas star as two washed up Vegas boxers and their last chance
to make it big. AMC, Destinta, Loews, MarketFair, Regal.
(if inane) cartoon — at least, that’s what your kids say. East
brought to the screen by Scott Hicks, starring Ethan Hawke and Youki
Kudoh. AMC, MarketFair, Regal.
White’s beloved mouse to the big screen. AMC, Destinta, Loews,
Mercer, Montgomery, Regal.
space thriller. AMC, Destinta, Loews, MarketFair, Regal.
about a stellar jazz guitarist with a less than stellar private life.
Sean Penn plays the musician, but New Jersey musicians Howard Alden
and Bucky Pizzarelli provide much of the jazz.
star in this thriller based on the Patricia Highsmith novel, written
and directed by Anthony Minghella (`The English Patient’). AMC,
Destinta, Loews, Mercer, Montgomery, Regal.
Victorian world of Gilbert and Sullivan, and their peerless command
of light opera. Montgomery.
of Tom Hanks and Tim Allen. AMC, Destinta, Loews, Mercer,
AMC Hamilton 24 Theaters, 325 Sloan Avenue, I-295 Exit
65A, 609-890-8307. 24-screen, stadium-seating. $7; $5 matinees; $5
Destinta, Independence Plaza, 2465 South Broad Street,
Hamilton, 609-888-4500. Stadium-seating 12-screen. $6.75 adults; $5
East Windsor Cinemas, Routes 130 and 571, 609-443-9295.
$3 adults; $2.50 matinees. Features Indian language films.
Garden Theater, 160 Nassau Street, 609-683-7595. $6.50
adults; $4 matinees.
Loews Theaters, Route 1 South, New Brunswick,
Stadium-seating. $8.50; $5.25 matinees.
MarketFair-UA, Route 1 South, 609-520-8700. $7.50;
Mercer Mall General Cinemas, Route 1, 609-452-2868.
$7.25 adults; $4.75 matinees.
Montgomery Center Theater, Routes 206 and 518,
Rocky Hill, 609-924-7444. $7; $4.25 matinees.
Regal Cinemas Town Center, 319 Route 130 North, East
Windsor, 609-371-8470. Stadium-seating, 15 screens. $8 adults; $5
Co-op/New Jersey Media Arts Center. Screenings are Fridays through
Sunday in Scott Hall, Room 123, College Avenue campus, near the corner
of College Avenue and Hamilton Street. Thursday screenings are in
Loree Hall, Room 024, Douglass College campus, near the corner of
Nichol Avenue and George Street; with selected free events at Borders
Books, Route 18 South, East Brunswick. Films are $5, $8, & $10; all
programs begin at 7 p.m. Call 732-932-8482.
starring James Stewart and Grace Kelly. Subtitles. $5, Thursday,
3. Boys Don’t Cry, Kimberly Peirce’s re-telling of the life
and murder of Brandon Teena; Hilary Swank won the Golden Globe’s 1999
best actress award for her portrayal of the young transexual, $5,
Friday to Sunday, February 4 to 6.
film (1947) by Hans Richter, about dreams for sale, with visuals by
Richter, Max Ernst, Fernand Leger, Man Ray, Marcel Duchamp, and
Calder; $5, Thursday, February 10. My Best Friend, Werner
1999 documentary about his relationship with cinema maniac Klaus
On a double bill with Herzog’s 1973 "Aguirre, Wrath of God"
that stars Kinski; $8, Friday and Saturday, February 11 and 12.
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