GEORGIA
1995, Park Circus/Miramax, 117 min, Dir: Ulu Grosbard

Jennifer Jason Leigh pushes her remarkable ability to embody tormented, self-abusive characters to its furthest extremes here, starring as Sadie, a desperately untalented singer struggling in the shadows of her sister Georgia (Mare Winningham), a much-loved folk musician. Written by Leigh’s mother, Barbara Turner, and co-produced by Leigh herself, GEORGIA is an emotionally-naked portrait of a performer struggling to be heard when almost no one cares to listen.


TRUE CONFESSIONS
1981, MGM/Park Circus, 108 min, USA, Dir: Ulu Grosbard

Circa 1948, Robert Duvall is a hard-nosed cop and Robert De Niro is his brother, an enterprising monsignor rising behind the scenes with high-powered Catholic members of Los Angeles’ political elite. When a young actress is gruesomely murdered (à la the Black Dahlia), Duvall believes one of De Niro’s high-profile parishioners, pimp-turned-building contractor Jack Amsterdam (Charles Durning), may be involved. Issues of family, guilt, moral responsibility and hypocrisy collide in screenwriter John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion’s screenplay from Dunne’s novel. Director Ulu Grosbard focuses on character and the personal terrain of missed emotional and spiritual opportunities, rather than making a standard whodunit, something that led critics to damn the movie with faint praise. One of the great lost films of the 1980s.


STRAIGHT TIME
1978, Warner Bros., 114 min, USA, Dir: Ulu Grosbard

This adaptation of the novel No Beast So Fierce, the crime-fiction debut of ex-con writer Edward Bunker (written while he was in prison), is one of the most underrated and least seen of Dustin Hoffman’s 1970s performances. Reformed Los Angeles junkie and thief Hoffman comes up against the gritty realities of a smugly unfair parole officer (M. Emmet Walsh) and the limited employment opportunities for ex-convicts. Although the bitter, frustrated Hoffman finds love in the form of Theresa Russell, his institutionalized resentments gradually suck him back down into the company of lowlife companions (Gary Busey, Harry Dean Stanton) and a life of crime. This was a project close to Hoffman’s heart - he initially began directing the film himself but turned it over to director Grosbard after the first few days.


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