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“We Are the Hartmans” is a very important powerhouse that will shock you back to life. Clad in eye-watering comedy, it is a film that no one can afford to miss.”
WE ARE THE HARTMANS review – December 26, 2011
Die-hard fans of actor Richard Chamberlain know that his filmography is varied, extensive and continuous, to say the least. Perhaps best known as Pilot-Major John Blackthorne in the TV-miniseries, “Shogun” (1980) or the ambiguous Father Ralph in “The Thorn Birds” (1983), the 77-year-old actor has played some of the most memorable and controversial roles in the history of theatre, television and cinema. Therefore, it may or may not come as a great surprise when the still stunning, outrageously talented Chamberlain plays the moribund, very-often-stoned, owner of a small town, Rock Club hangout called Hartmans.
The genius behind “We Are the Hartmans” is a young writer/director named Laura Newman (“Sexy Clown Bitch”). Living and working in New York City, Newman is also a singer/composer, and a prominent member of an activist performance group called “Reverend Billy’s Church of Earthalujah,” formerly known as, “The Church of Stop Shopping.” Newman says that she specializes in writing for comedy, but viewers will decide whether “We Are the Hartmans” fits in that category, or somewhere else….
What’s interesting about Newman’s film is that it’s a total collaboration. Yes, the legendary Richard Chamberlain is the soul of the town, and his acting has never been better, but his co-actors are likewise superb, and no character is more important than another. In the interview with Newman and Chamberlain to follow this review, both explain that the screenplay is also a collaboration—as is the film’s unique method of distribution. Further enticing, is Newman and Company’s subtle approach to a very political message that is both timeless and presently relevant.
“We Are the Hartmans” is a very important powerhouse that will shock you back to life. Clad in eye-watering comedy, it is a film that no one can afford to miss. Luckily, tickets are moderately priced— even in this trying economy— and Newman’s theatre-venues are unusually inviting. Oh, and look for an amazing cameo of Laura Newman in the film. I’d tell you where to find her, but I wouldn’t want to give too much away.
“Presaging the Occupation, and Intersecting With It”
In an only-partly-intentional case of life imitating art imitating life imitating art, “We Are the Hartmans,” an indie movie about an occupation made before Occupy Wall Street by people who later took part in the demonstrations is being screened Friday night at the Lower East Side bar where it was filmed.
It is not as complicated as it sounds. The movie, a comedy-with-music about people who take over a treasured nightspot to keep it from closing, is made by a group that includes members of the anticorporate performance group the Church of Stop Shopping. It was conceived and filmed before Occupy Wall Street.
In the most seemingly prefiguratory scene, protesters cheer and sling back beers while the prima donna pop star captures it all on a mini-camera that he streams to squealing teenage girls on the Internet.
“It’s an occupation!” shouts the pop star, played by Ben Curtis (of Dell Computer ad fame). “Let’s come up with a list of demands!”
Art and life collided with particular intensity last month when cast and crew members who had just been at a screening heard the news that the police had dismantled the Zuccotti Park encampment. Laura Newman, one of the film’s five producers, reported to the barricades and, she says, was pushed by police officers while filming the next morning.
A co-producer, Jonah Spear, said the experience of making the film paralleled the plot of the film itself, as well as some of the trajectory of Occupy Wall Street.
“It’s a story about a group of people getting together to make something impossible,” he said, adding that in a leaderless group they first made “an absolute travesty” of a script. “For all the warm and fuzzy that collaboration is worth, it helps to have somebody in charge.”… (con’t here)
“It takes us on a joy ride from start to finish, pinked with great acting, witty writing and topics that the 99% can relate to. Much of the movies feel-good appeal comes from the cast’s harmonic synergy, rocking soundtrack, and organic characters.”
We Are the Hartmans’ Review – Posted: 10/21/11 08:50 PM ET
Laura’s a bit psychic.
I’ll let you be the judge though. Two years ago, Laura Newman began writing a comedic film entitled We are the Hartman’s, which debuted at the 2011 CMJ Film Festival on Thursday.
The plot follows Jordan, played by Ben Curtis, an employee at Hartman’s Club, as he goes on a journey to save the club owned by Mr. Hartman, played by Richard Chamberlain. The story progresses to reveal relationships between Hartman’s family and town members as they all react to his terminal illness, the financial pressures of keeping the Hartman club open, rebellion against corporate America and big-chain superstores, and an occupation, (that’s right an OCCUPATION), in order to revive the pulse of small-town individuality.
Throw a bit of pot, nudity, humor and disorganized leadership, and We are the Hartman’s smells faintly of Zuccotti Park and the other Occupy movements across the nation. “It shows that we are on the heartbeat of what’s going on,” Newman, modestly explained at a CMJ Q&A after the screening. (con’t)
“Scrappy charm and a heart-in-the-right-place sincerity…The community spirit that infuses We Are the Hartmans gives this modest indie comedy a timely hook, connecting to the country’s growing grassroots rejection of America as the land of the rich.”
by Larry McGillicuddy
The influx of big chain stores in the modern economic environment has made it very difficult for small businesses to survive. While not all of these mega retail locations are evil, there’s no denying the charm of a local small store or hangout that makes you feel at home. The overly silly, but somewhat satisfying film We are the Hartmans touches on these themes.
Hartmans is a small local pub and music venue that caters to people that don’t always feel welcome. It is the last of the small businesses in their town and the oen place that still makes them feel at home. When the owner (Richard Chamberlain) gets sick, his family comes to town and makes plans to sell the place. The Hartmans regulars band together to fight the sale.
There’s a lot of silliness to be had in here and some of it reaches sitcom levels. However, this is a film that has its heart in the right place. The cast of unknowns works well with veteran actor Richard Chamberlain, who is surprisingly convincing in a role very different from what he usually plays. There’s a sweet romance between Hartman’s daughter and one of the locals. ultimately, the film gets across the message of standing up for the little guy in the face of corporate greed and does so in an entertaining fashion.
In the Works: Marston in Albania, Pixelated Feature, Club Closure, Desaparecido & Popcorn Ice Cream
By Brian Brooks and Bryce Renninger (June 17, 2010)
We are the Hartmans
Logline: The fight is on to save the last suburban rock club.
About the film: Hartman’s club is the last local hangout in a town beset by Wal-Mart and fast food chains. When the owner of Hartman’s falls ill, his estranged family comes to town to sell the club and collect the money. What they don’t expect is a full-scale neighborhood rebellion by the eccentric musicians, drunks and drag queens that frequent the club. Director Laura Newman notes, “This film began with a bunch of frustrated actors and filmmakers saying, “I wanna make a film!!!” Many of us had been working on films that died or were in constant development. I had been working on a script about a conservative teen summer camp for over 6 years so I was looking to do a low budget film that was super collaborative and fast. So a group of us got in a room and started improvising, creating characters and relationships. Later we brought in Peter Brash, an Emmy award winning writer to help us develop the plot.
We decided to set the whole thing in a rock club in the suburbs. I’d heard about a club in Connecticut in the 90s that was the only place for 50 miles where punk and goth kids could hang out and play music. It was their sanctuary in a boring town. I have been working for years with Reverend Billy and his “Church of Stop Shopping” and traveled all over the U.S. with the group for the film “What Would Jesus Buy?” I’d seen many of these small towns with boarded up main streets and only a Pizza Hut to hang out it. I thought it would be great to take all the characters we’d created in the improv sessions and put them in a rock club called Hartmans, that is under threat of closing. If Hartman dies it’s almost like the town dies. There will have no bar, no culture, no community center. All the characters come from different backgrounds (a marine, a famous rock star, a redneck out of work, a preacher, a hip-hop artist, etc.) They don’t get along but they all unite in order to save the club.”