JUST THE FILM WE NEED RIGHT NOW
SEPTEMBER 3, 2020 Molly Lord MovieWorld
Reviewing short film has never been my favorite pasttime, but when I was steered to HOW BOUT A CUPPA TEA, written and directed by Jan Miller Corran, I thought that a review was in order. This is not a pandemic film. Let me make that clear. Yet, it is the actions people take as a result of what they decide to do during that crisis that is the foundation of this insightful film. As people are dying and ill in reality, the characters in TEA find humor, renewal and forward thinking.
The use of photos to relive memories of a time when our heroine Mary Beth, played by Constance Brenneman, was in love and in turmoil is used very well. I especially like the moments when Mary Beth shares her inner thoughts through voice overs. This thirty minute film packs a powerful punch. In the end you hope that all of its viewers take some of the advice Mary Beth shares.
Cathy Debuono has a very small part but she is outstanding. She expresses all the insanity of what is going on in the world. DeBuono delivers a memorable line that had me laughing out loud. Best takeway character is Joan Carson, portrayed by LeeAnne Matusek, the reporter who I wish was the reporter on my local station. She convinced me to wear my mask. Real life son Hank Matusek portrays the teenage son Kevin.
The film is available on Vimeo starting September 8, 2020. This is one short that should be seen.
How 'Bout a Cuppa Tea Hits the Spot
GWEN STAUFER THAT'S A WRAP
AUGUST 19. 2020
My hat is off to any film maker who bravely films during this pandemic. If strict SAG (Screen Actors Guild) rules don't scare you away, the ability to do this with limited crew and social distancing will. Jan Miller Corran (Snapshots 2018) awoke one morning and decided that she would take on the challenge. I'm glad she did.
How 'Bout a Cuppa Tea touches on life changes when the world is faced with a dangerous illness. Constance Brenneman (The Toy Soldiers, Anatomy of a Love Seen, Traded) delivers a warm and memorable performance. In the span of twenty-five minutes we get to know her Mary Beth Higgins. She loves her son, is questioning her marriage, then questions her love choices thanks to a delivery of a piece of memorabilia in a box. In the end we want to go wherever the path leads her. I became a big Brenneman fan.
Cathy DeBuono (Crazy Bitches, Meth Head) is Wanda Delivery, your local package delivery person with panache. DeBuono owns her few moments in this film. She injects the humor needed to keep our spirits up during a time of crisis in the world.
Newcomer Hank Matusek will be easily recognizable as your typical flat affect teenager who mumbles throughout the film. His dialogue is merely filler. He may be the weak link in this small cast, but it doesn't matter. He awkwardly loves his mother.
Brenneman delivers writer/director Jan Miller Corran's words beautifully. She believes what she is saying and makes us believe them too. Corran took a big chance with her first time directing project. I for one am glad she did. Now I'm going to watch it again and have a cuppa tea.
A forbidden romance is sensitively depicted in Snapshots, Melanie Mayron's drama featuring Piper Laurie as an elderly woman who becomes reminded of her past via a vintage camera. That the film's screenplay, co-written by Jan Miller Corran and Katherine Cortez, is based on real-life events adds a poignant element to this indie feature benefiting from excellent performances by its largely female cast.
The film begins with a reunion of three generations of family members at a lakeside house, including 85-year-old Rose (Laurie), her daughter Patty (Brooke Adams) and her granddaughter Allison (Emily Baldoni). There's considerable tension between Patty, heavily drinking since the death of her husband who was having an affair with his secretary, and Allison, secretly pregnant and wondering if she's still in love with her spouse.
When Allison presents her grandmother with Rose's old Brownie camera Allison's recently found, the gift unleashes a flood of memories. The action shifts many decades earlier to the 1960s, when the young newlywed Rose (Shannon Collis) is vacationing during the summer at a lakeside house with her husband, Joe (Max Adler). There she meets Louise (Emily Goss), a photographer living nearby with her husband, Zee (Brett Dier).
It doesn't take long for Louise to make known her romantic feelings for Rose, who finds herself irresistibly drawn to the free-spirited bohemian. Although initially far too conventional and reserved to reciprocate, Rose eventually throws caution to the wind and embarks on a torrid affair, conducted behind both husbands' backs. The secret relationship lasts for years, with Louise at one point pressing Rose to leave her husband and move away with her to some city where they could forge a life together.
The film is much stronger in the flashback sections than the present-day interludes, although both are occasionally marred by clunky, cliched dialogue. When Louise first comes on to her physically, the flustered Rose asks, "What are you doing?" "What I've wanted to do since I first saw you," Louise responds, having apparently seen too many bad romantic movies. At another point, during a discussion of lesbianism, Patty declares, 'I don't like the idea of it, it's gross," as her mother visibly blanches. Not long afterward, Allison confesses that she's having an affair with another woman, a plot element that inevitably feels schematic.
Despite those occasional missteps, Snapshots presents a moving portrait of its central relationship doomed by societal constrictions. The female characters are well-drawn and vibrant, while the men are depicted sympathetically. Collis and Goss deliver affectingly soulful, sensuous performances that vividly convey their characters' passion for each other, while Laurie is quietly touching as the elderly woman who lost the love of her life without ever being able to tell anyone about it.
Mayron infuses the proceedings with a hazy glow that provides a warmly nostalgic atmosphere. And while the pacing can be a little too leisurely at times, it doesn't prevent Snapshots from being a mature, reflective drama that is all the more effective for its restraint.
Production: Three Women in a Box Films
Distributor: Gravitas Ventures
Cast: Piper Laurie, Brooke Adams, Emily Baldoni, Emily Goss, Shannon Collis, Max Adler, Brett Dier, Cathy DeBuono
Director: Melanie Mayron
Screenwriter: Jan Miller Corran, Katherine Cortez
Producers: Jan Miller Corran, Lee Anne Matusek
Executive producers: Catlin Adams, Denmorlin, Jane Gilmore, Melanie Mayron
Director of photography: Michael Negrin
Production designer: Jeff McLaughlin
Editor: Josh Rifkin
Composer: David Michael Frank
Costume designer: Ileane Metzer
By Gary Goldstein
July 25, 2018
“Snapshots” nicely shuttles between past and present to tell its affecting, evocative tale of familial and romantic love among several generations of women. But it’s the flashbacks that prove more wholly compelling here, so much so that they could have made for their own standalone film.
The title refers to the old photos that jog the memory of 85-year-old widow Rose (Piper Laurie) during a weekend visit to her scenic Missouri lake house by judgmental daughter Patty (Brooke Adams) and anxious granddaughter Allison (Emily Baldoni), both of whom are struggling with an array of life issues.
The unearthed snapshots take Rose back more than 50 years to her early marriage to adman Joe (Max Adler) and their friendship with musician Zee (Brett Dier) and his bold, free-spirited wife, Louise (a captivating Emily Goss). The covert, ahead-of-its-time romance that develops between Louise and the young Rose (Shannon Collis), stirringly and tenderly handled by director Melanie Mayron, gives the film a rich and haunting center.