I stuck around for the 8:00 p.m. screening of “Chlorine,” an independent feature with an intriguing cast: Vincent D’Onofrio, Kyra Sedgwick, Michele Hicks, Dreama Walker – and more familiar faces popped up as the film unspooled, including Tom Sizemore and Elizabeth Röhm. I found the tone unsettling: the central family of D’Onofrio and Sedgwick and their two adolescent children all seemed in crisis, and all the people surrounding them were cruel, feckless, betraying, and mean-spirited. I was reminded of “American Beauty,” but less so. Amazingly, after everybody did everybody dirt, there was a surprisingly sweet-tempered ending, in which at least D’Onofrio and Sedgwick seemed reconciled.
Writer/Director Jay Alaimo, carefully and stylishly dressed in a cool aesthetic of plaid trousers, blue shirt, dotted tie, and corduroy jacket, seemed almost apologetic, oddly modest, self-deprecating, and very soft-spoken – he didn’t use the mic he was given, and we strained to hear both him and the questions from the sliver of the audience that stuck around.
Even though I hadn’t really warmed to the film, I was immediately impressed when he said it had been shot in 17 days, which seemed almost impossible (especially when he said that many other scenes that he shot didn’t make it into the film), on a tiny budget, in super 16. I was interested in a discussion of side-by-side testing of the Alexa digital camera and 35mm Fuji film for a new project – he preferred the digital – and just shot a project he directed for hire, “The World Within,” digitally with two cameras at once, not only saving time but, he said, capturing amazing energy in performances.
Still, I was left with two wistful soundbites: “I think this film [“Chlorine”] has been jinxed in a lot of ways that make me laugh,” and what he said was a quote: “Filmmaking is the least artistic of all the arts” – to which Amaino added “It’s true, and it’s a bummer.”