Monday, February 2, 2015

Former Charlotte actor MacLachlan pays movie dues

If you want to find someone who's having a typical Hollywood career outside the star circuit, consider Angus MacLachlan. The UNC School of the Arts graduate, who acted for Charlotte Repertory Theatre in the late '80s and early '90s, shot a short film called "Tater Tomater" in 1990.

He kept acting and writing plays, but filmmaking called. He wrote the script for "Junebug," which introduced Amy Adams to fans 10 years ago and earned her the first of five Oscar nominations. Five years later, another script ("Stone") finally got made. Three years after that, he wrote the screenplay for the Norwegian psychological drama "Förtroligheten."

Finally, he made his writing-directing debut with "Goodbye To All That," which broke out at last year's Tribeca International Film Festival in April. Paul Schneider won the fest's prize as best actor by playing a man whose wife (Melanie Lynskey) startles him with her announcement that she wants a divorce; he embarks on ill-advised encounters with women his age (late 30s) and younger, while trying to keep the respect of his young daughter. Here's Angus (right) with fellow director Justin Weinstein at Tribeca:

The supporting cast included Heather Graham, Heather Lawless and Anna Camp. But in a crowded marketplace of first-run theaters, "Goodbye" more or less disappeared. IFC films gave it a limited release in late December; it hasn't played Charlotte theatrically, because the Regal and AMC chains (which own almost all the theaters here) prefer not to show films that have a simultaneous release on DVD or video, as this one did.

"So far we have about 15 markets," MacLachlan wrote me last month. "We've done NYC, L.A., Pittsburgh, Sante Fe, Winston-Salem" -- where he lives and shot the movie -- "and other odd, obscure ones: Coral Gables, Fla., Waynesville, N.C. Go figure.

"It is on all other platforms, and I think that's the way small indies are going. No one can make any money off of theatrical. It feels like in 4-5 years, this size film won't get any theatrical release at all."

By "all other platforms," he means Video on Demand, iTunes, Amazon and the usual suspects. And if he's right about his prognosis, 2020 will be a sad time in movie distribution. There should always be room for a heartfelt, gentle film about a person you or I might know -- or even be -- who's struggling to hit one of life's curveballs. We can't spend our entire entertainment-based lives watching aliens and sorcerers and teen boys or girls coming of age with mighty feats.

Or can we? More and more, movie distributors seem to think we can. 


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