In selected cities around the country this weekend, one of the best films of recent years is finally making it to the screen. Victor Nunez’s 2002 film COASTLINES. IFC Films is finally releasing it to theatres, and it is also a part of their IFC On Demand deal with Comcast cable.
This is yet another excellent film from one of the best directors working today. Every one of Nunez’s Florida set films has been a mini masterpiece. Yet, when talks comes to the great directors, his name is rarely mentioned, as most of them haven’t been seen by audiences.
His first feature was 1979’s GAL YOUNG ‘UN, based on the Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings story (The Yearling), about a widow who is swindled by a younger man. She teams up with the man’s girlfriend (the title character) to get back at him.
1984’s A FLASH OF GREEN was a story about a newspaper reporter (Ed Harris) battling corruption in a Florida town. The title refers to the natural phenomena of when the sun sets on the water, and a green flash is seen. The same phenomena that Rohmer used in his film LA RAYON VERT / THE GREEN RAY (which somehow was translated as SUMMER when it was released in the US). Rohmer and Nunez are two of my favorites, so for them both to make a film like this was quite surprising to me.
Then came the film that made me a fan for life, 1993’s RUBY IN PARADISE. Ashley Judd’s first starring role, as a retail clerk in Panama City Florida. One of my all time favorites.
Next was probably his most popular film, 1997’s ULEE’S GOLD, with Peter Fonda as a beekeeper in Florida.
And finally, 2002’s COASTLINES, featuring Timothy Olyphant as a man who gets out of jail and returns to his home. Also featuring Josh Brolin and Sarah Wynter.
COASTLINES had a very rocky road to distribution. It premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2002, but was overshadowed by some of the other films that year, so it didn’t get much hype, or any distribution.
Over the years, I was waiting and waiting to see it, so I would constantly email both IFC films who helped finance it and another production company who was involved in it, asking for details of a release. They would occasionally email me to say “It should be out in a few months” or “Early next year”. This went on for years until finally, in 2005, looking on Ebay, I found a copy of it in a box set of films from a DVD collection in Australia.
It was worth the wait. While not up to RUBY, it still is an excellent film.
One of the things about Nunez and his films, while they are about the characters, in some ways, they are about the locations just as much. With RUBY you got a real feel for the store she worked at, and her little house she lived in. In COASTLINES, you get to know the gas stations, medical offices, and their homes just as much as the characters.
Filmed in the Florida panhandle, there is one scene of two characters driving, in opposite directions, along a highway. One is going toward a location, the other is coming from it. It is a perfectly done sequence that ends with a very memorable camera move.
But, one of the problems with Nunez’s work, it is rather difficult to see. Only ULEE’S GOLD is out on DVD. RUBY had its first cable showing in years a few months ago, and is out of print on VHS. FLASH and GAL were also distributed on VHS by companies that are no longer in business. There may be copies on Ebay, but they deserve to have a bigger distribution.
I hope that COASTLINES will attract an audience.
Saturday, June 03, 2006
Posted by TALKING MOVIEzzz at 12:53 PM