Thursday, September 3, 2009

Local Color DVD



DVD Review by Kam Williams


Headline: Fact-Based Period Drama Due on DVD


                18 year-old John Talia, Jr. (Trevor Morgan) is an aspiring artist who is mostly misunderstood by his blue-collar father (Ray Liotta). John, Sr. thinks his son must be a homosexual because he enjoys drawing male nudes.  After all, this is 1974, during decidedly less-enlightened times, especially in upstate New York.

So, his frustrated son runs away to Pennsylvania to sit at the feet of his aging idol, Nicoli Seroff (Armin Mueller-Stahl) who grudgingly agrees to take him on as an apprentice. But John has no idea that this embittered alcoholic has lost not only his enthusiasm for painting but for life itself. It seems that the cranky codger is still grieving the death of his wife who passed away ages ago in Stalinist Russia during the purge. He somehow remains sour in spite of the presence of a ready replacement waiting in the wings in the person of his pretty neighbor, Carla (Samantha Mathis).

The plot thickens when the cantankerous coot put his protégé on an unorthodox training regimen involving painting his house instead of canvases. Soon, John starts to wonder how the heck this will lead to his learning to paint beautiful landscapes.

If you’re familiar with the storyline of The Karate Kid, then you undoubtedly remember that the mentoring-style of sensei Mr. Miyagi (who was also mourning the loss of his wife) had more to do with housework than with the martial arts. Therefore, expect to see shades of that screen classic’s arc in this autobiographical coming-of-age bio-pic written and directed by George Gallo.

Fortunately, its variation on the “ostracized teen trying to make it in a new town” theme does have a unique twist in an awkward love triangle. You see, the blonde John goes gaga over isn’t his own age, but Carla, a cougar prepared to pounce, provided her young prey doesn’t turn out to be gay.

Simultaneously serving as a muse and as a sympathetic shoulder to lean on, the seductive single-mom inspires her blossoming boy-toy with simplistic, fortune cookie philosophizing such as: “Follow your heart!” and “Don’t let anyone talk you out of what you want to be.” Hey, don’t laugh Corny lines like that can sound like pearls of wisdom to the testosterone-blinded mind of a virgin with raging hormones. 

Forget The Karate Kid, make room for The Painting Protégé!


Very Good (2.5 stars)

Rated R for profanity.

Running time: 107 minutes

Studio: Monterey Video

DVD Extras: Behind-the scenes featurette with director George, a cast interview, a sneak peek into the director’s studio and a theatrical trailer.

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