Title: Stolen Summer
Release Date: 2002
Nationality and Language:
Running time: about 96 minutes
Distributor and Production Company: Miramax / LivePlanet / Project Greelight
Director; Writer: Pete Jones (both)
Producer: Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Chris Moore
Cast: Aidan Quinn, Kevin Pollack, Eddie Kaye Thomas, Kristie Kelly, Adi Stein
Relevance to doaskdotell site: getting into the movies; religion and culture
Movie Review of Stolen Summer
Starring Aidan Quinn, Kevin Pollack, Eddie Kaye Thomas, Kristie Kelly, Adi Stein
Written and Directed by Pete Jones, Produced by Project Greenlight and Live Planet (1997)
(For current details about the latest Project Greenlight contest go to the website shown here.)
This film is the end product from the screenwriting contest sponsored by Project Greenlight in 2000 and 2001, with Pete Jones winning the opportunity to direct his own movie. At one point I had volunteered to be a reviewer but dropped out because of the time constraints.
And a very important and timely film this is. It presents the problem of
The story, which does follow a fairly linear "literary agent"
plot skeleton, starts when the son of a Catholic firefighter wants to set up
a free lemonade stand in front of a synagogue to help
"non-Christians" go to heaven. Immediately, there is a clever
script line from the rabbi that he won't be taken seriously unless he charges
money for his treats. We do have the expected dialgoue
about "saving souls"; I wondered that myself at age eight or so,
did lack of "Belief" really deny access to heaven after death?--I
didn't "believe" that. The boy is sincere, but as
his parents get drawn in things are anything but simple. The
firefighter (played by Aidan Quinn) vigorously defends his working-class
Irish Catholic group religious values. He is soon challenged by the older son
(Patrick, played by Eddie Kaye Thomas) when the rabbi offers the son a
college scholarship. The father resents this as a "Jewish"
publicity stunt. At one point, he accuses the "Jews" of not having
enough children for "selfish" economic reasons. (Conservative
commentators on the
Of course, the story hits hard now because of current events since the screenplay was written. It delineates in a small setting how religion gets mixed up with personal motives. The teenager (rather a perfect son, kind of "Clark Kent" -like) does not understand why religious identity should interfere with a personal career and initiative -- and this is the sort of thing we hear conservatives write about today when discussing the values of radical Islam.
The Catholic father, in fact, plays his proper male role hard. "A dad takes care of his family," he says. Or is it, "a man takes care of his family"? A man in circumscribed by his family. His life took the position that becoming a father (and proper "ritual" practice of group faith) was a more fundamental step towards adulthood than any career "choice." For him, "family values" is a primary motivation.
This film so far (as of 5-2002) has seen only very limited screenings. I hope that word-of-mouth with encourage the suburban chains to rent it so that Miramax makes a "fair" profit and can sponsor more contests. I hope that there is no squeamishness from exhibitors due to the controversial nature of the (religious) subject matter.
Viewers may remember the Sunday night "Project Greenlight"
series on HBO, a series of 30-minute programs documenting the making of this
film. It gives you an idea of what can be done today for $1 million. (So what
is DADT to cost? $60 million??) The baseball game scene did not seem to show
up in the final cut; maybe it was "rained out." I recall the
burning house, and the
Readers will want to visit projectgreenlight.com, navigate to the bios for "Stolen Summer" and read Matt Damon's advice on getting into showbiz. Yeah, yeah, there's a catch-22, you need an agent to get a job to get an agent....you have to get into the union ... don't do it?? .... well, Matt, you wrote your way into this business. And technology is giving indie's all kinds of possibilities for micro-budget film-making, with turf controversies likely to follow.
Also, right after the show (at
The winner of the 2002 Project Greenlight
screenwriting contest is The
Battle of Shaker Heights, by Erica Beeney.
(I was a reviewer in the contest, although I did not read this screenplay.)
This film was distributed by Miramax in platform release in August 2003. The
title refers to a certain layering of the story, where the “battle” is a
recreation of a World War II battle (the Battle of the Bulge) for a video as
stage by nerdy high school senior Kelly Ernswiler, played
by a most charismatic Shia La Beouf
(from Holes), but then this gets to be translated into a battle
between Kelly and his various high school chums and nemeses in an upper
middle class Cleveland suburb high school. Yes, Cleveland, although the story
stays in the neighborhood with
Feast (2006, Dimension, dir.
John Gulager, wr. Marcus
Dunstan and Patrick Melton, 86 min, R) was the winner of the 2004 contest,
which was supposed to be sci-fi and horror. In fact, this is a monster movie,
plain and simple. “They’re hungry, you’re dinner.” A bunch of seedy
characters for the most part (the one exception is “Hot Wheels” played by
Josh Zuckerman, an appealing college-age man in a wheel chair and he seems to
be able to direct the actions of others while surviving the onslaught
himself). There is brother Bozo (Balthazar Getty, from David Lynch’s “
I have a blogspot entry about the Project Greenlight contest here.
Season 2 finalist “Renaissance” has become a stage play. Details at link below, or at this blogger entry.
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