Whenever I am about to review a movie by a Stuyvesant Town filmmaker, of whom we have quite a few, I always worry “What will I write if I do not like it?” Fortunately, so far that has not been an issue. The new independent feature comedy “Turning Green” co-written and co-directed by Stuyvesant Town residents Michael Aimette and John G. Hofmann is no exception. The film has a fun premise and a game cast. It reminded me of a lower budget answer to “Risky Business,” the 1983 Tom Cruise comedy about a teenager who starts his own prostitution ring.
“Turning Green” takes place in Ireland in 1979. The story concerns American teenager James Powers, who along with his younger brother Pete, has been sent to Ireland to live with a horrific trio of aunts. James wants very much to return to America but does not have the money to do so. He comes up with the idea of importing pornographic magazines from England to sell in Ireland. Remember, this is in the days before internet porn when such material was not readily available. Of course things do not go exactly as planned.
“Turning Green” is a comedy with dark overtones, played by a cast consisting of two well known actors plus actors who are new to American audiences. Newcomer Donal Gallery, 17 at the time the film was shot, plays James. Gallery effortlessly shoulders the film with his portrayal of adolescent angst tempered by capitalist savvy. The movie co-stars Timothy Hutton and Colm Meaney along with many fun Irish character actors.
Making a first feature proved to be quite an education for Aimette and Hofmann in terms of what went right and what, well, could have gone better. Landing name actors Hutton and Meaney was quite a coup. Aimette explained that they were able to get the actors through “packaging,” a process by which a talent agency will combine some of their clients to work on the same project. Aimette and Hofmann’s agent brought the “Turning Green” script to the William Morris Agency which represented both Hutton and Meaney. The most important factor in making the deal though was that the actors liked the script, again quite a nice thing for first time filmmakers. However, one part of the script that Aimette and Hofmann did not like was their own ending. In contrast, the film’s producers were so enamored of the script’s ending that they insisted on keeping it. The directors, eager to have their film made, agreed to the producers’ demand but held out hope of changing the ending, but to no avail. In all honesty the ending does come out of left field but is cushioned by the film’s comic premise, beautiful cinematography and fine cast.
In a very high tech distribution strategy “Turning Green,” which was beautifully shot on high definition video by cinematographer Tim Fleming, will only be shown in theatres digitally. No film prints of the movie will be made, which will save on distribution costs, thus hopefully helping the film to turn a profit, which in turn will hopefully put Michael Aimette and John G. Hofmann to work on movie number two.
“Turning Green” opened at the AMC Empire 25 multiplex on 42 St., on Friday November 13.
Turning Green, directors Michael Aimette and John G. Hofmann, 2005,
New Films International, 85 minutes