MATEWAN
1987, Park Circus/MGM, 132 min, USA, Dir: John Sayles

Based on a true incident in the impoverished but coal-rich hills of West Virginia in the 1920s, writer-director John Sayles’ masterpiece is an unforgettable portrait of a community struggling to assert itself under the crushing dominance of capitalist greed. Chris Cooper (ADAPTATION) turns in his finest performance as labor organizer Joe Kenehan, with tremendous support from a cast that includes James Earl Jones, Mary McDonnell, David Strathairn and Sayles himself. The cinematography by Haskell Wexler (WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF?, ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST, and winner of the 1992 ASC Lifetime Achievement Award) perfectly captures the haunted, bone-weary desperation of the miners and their families.


LONE STAR
1996, Warner Bros., 135 min, USA, Dir: John Sayles

Chris Cooper plays an easygoing Texas sheriff who discovers unpleasant truths about his town and his own past in this intricately plotted murder mystery. Displaying his usual talent for ensemble characterization, director John Sayles follows nearly a dozen major players (Kris Kristofferson, Frances McDormand and Matthew McConaughey are among the film's many talented actors) as their stories intersect and raise questions about political corruption, multiculturalism, and other contemporary issues.


ADAPTATION.
2002, Sony Repertory, 114 min, USA, Dir: Spike Jonze

From the team who brought us BEING JOHN MALKOVICH, director Spike Jonze and screenwriter Charlie Kaufman, ADAPTATION is a brilliantly offbeat comedy starring Nicolas Cage as “Charlie Kaufman,” a confused L.A. screenwriter overwhelmed by feelings of inadequacy, sexual frustration and self-loathing - and by the screenwriting ambitions of his freeloading twin brother, Donald (also played by Cage). While struggling to adapt “The Orchid Thief” by Susan Orlean (Meryl Streep), Kaufman’s life spins from pathetic to bizarre. The lives of Kaufman, Orlean and orchid poacher John Laroche (Chris Cooper), the subject of Orlean’s book, become strangely intertwined as each one’s search for passion collides with the others’.


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