BANANA MAN

 

“Banana Man: Buster Keaton and Samuel Beckett Make ‘FILM’”



It’s 1964 and “It’s All Over Now” (Rolling Stones).


A big year, 1964.  Fifty years ago, Henry Miller’s “Tropic of Cancer” is cleared for circulation by the Supreme Court.  Martha and the Vandellas are “Dancin’ in the Street” and The Drifters are doing who knows what “Under the Boardwalk.”


The Civil Rights Act is passed on July 2nd and two weeks later there are riots in Harlem after an unarmed young James Powell is shot by an off duty policeman. 


The jazz world is knocked out by John Coltrane’s “A Supreme Love,” and speaking of knockouts, Cassius Clay changes his name and The Supremes are wondering where their love went.  Zoot Sims is ripping his tenor axe at the Half Note on Spring Street and Blossom Dearie stylishly sings cabaret in the now defunct Danny ‘s Skylight Room.


“She Loves You” and “Can’t Buy Me Love” will ride atop the Billboard charts, and on July 16, in Brooklyn, as Barry Goldwater is nominated by the GOP, Irish literary lion Samuel Beckett makes his one and only film (he called it “FILM”) on a hot, hot day and it features silent film star Buster Keaton as a man who is attempting to escape perception – including that of himself.


50th Anniversary Production


Yes, it’s fifty years now that these once living legends of stage and screen worked

together, and a new film release from Loose Moon Productions of New York is memorializing this singular event in filmmaking history with the release of their new film.


“Banana Man” was written by Don Nigro.  The film based on his play is peppered and salted with visual and literary allusions and references both to Beckett’s most famous plays (”Krapp’s Last Tape, “Waiting for Godot”) and Keaton’s illustrious career, while capturing cultural essences from the very transitional year in which it was made.


Keaton, played by painter Stephen Lloyd Smith, runs in place in the end credits, for example, and this will recall to some one of his last performances, in “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” in which he runs about the Seven Hills of Rome into perpetuity. 


Mostly, though, “Banana Man” is a conversation about the arts and performance and the maybe-not-so-good-as-we-might-think-good-old-days as a hip and hippie-ish waitress captivates the odd coupling by explaining to them the very meaning of their art and their lives.


Lou Matthews is the Waitress and T. D. White is Samuel Beckett.  Shot in an early television “noir” style, Banana Man runs twenty-seven minutes, and is the third in a series of beautifully made non-traditional short films that celebrate art and artists, poets, playwrights and painters.     



Non-Traditional Filmmaking About the Arts, Artists


To Paint the Portrait of a Bird is a fifteen minute 35 mm film based on the cherished poem by scenarist and writer, Jacques Prevert, known most notably for that most simple, sublime and brilliant poem, lyrics to the song, Autumn Leaves, and the 1945 classic Marcel Carne film, Children of Paradise (Les enfants du paradis), among others.


“Bird” was Best Short Film of the New York/ Avignon Film Festival, an Official Selection at Woodstock and Mill Valley, and is available online at the iTunes store through an arrangement with Short International.  An aging reclusive painter seeks to capture life, a living thing, on canvas … in a wooded area … a forest … a boy observes  unseen and writes what he sees … later, the very poem cherished in France since the 1930’s.


Dinner on the Riviera by T. D. White is a short film that employs the principles of late 19th Century French Naturalism in contemporary New York City, in particular the “comedie rosse,” or “nasty play,” as it evolved in the Theatre Libre of Andre Antoine.  Here are snippets and slices of life (“tranches de vie”) about our not so nice but very real neighbors.


… four short “pictures,” written by T. D. White, are woven oh so loosely into this jazz-like construction (Ex and the City, No Menus Please, Amen, and Dinner on the Riviera) … a young writer remembers, invents, imagines, observes as he sits on a stoop in the West Village between drinks … no Vermeer here, more like a busted-up Braque on the contemporary canvas of film.  An Official Selection of the inaugural 2011 New York Shortsfest, New Filmmakers, and The Lower East Side Film Festival at Theater for the New City in May of 2014. 


Overview


Banana Man: Buster Keaton and Samuel Beckett Make a “FILM” was shot with a Red Digital Cinema Scarlet, 4K with a Cooke 18-100 mm Varotel lens to achieve its unique early television/noir look.  Primary consideration was the weave of Mr. Nigro’s fine play, Beckett’s work (specifically the odd, iconic FILM), the silent film era, the comedy of Buster Keaton, and the cultural shifts in the year 1964 in Greenwich Village.


Logline


“In New York, in the summer of the year 1964, Alan Schneider directed a small film written by Samuel Beckett and featuring Buster Keaton.  In the evenings, they would have dinner in an Italian restaurant, Beckett and Schneider and the rest at one table, Buster by himself at another.  This is probably not what happened there.”



Synopsis


As Buster Keaton and Samuel Beckett chat and reminisce about films and Hollywood

and life and Fatty Arbuckle and prepare to shoot Beckett’s one and only “FILM,” their attention is totally taken by an engaging waitress with acting ambitions and fond memories that will make us all the more aware of the true power, and importance, of performance.


Director


Joseph Quartararo is a Brooklyn-based writer/director and skilled audio/visual technician who has worked in India, Japan, Ecuador, Italy, Bangladesh, and throughout the United States.  Film credits include his feature, The Candy Flip, his short films Charity and Abigail in Place, and Dinner on the Riviera written by T. D. White.


Producers


Texas-born Paul Stasiulis attended “Ole Miss” (The University of Mississippi) both for undergrad and law school.  He is a tax attorney who practiced in Dallas for five years before moving to Manhattan in 2005 where he now resides in the West Village.  


While James T. Richard has extensive experience in the fashion and commercial industries, film remains his first love.   His debut short, Charity, is the first in a slate of projects he is signed on to produce.




Director of Photography


Donavon de Cesare recently shot Charity by Joe Quartararo as well as his feature, The Candy Flip.  He is a graduate of the School of Visual Arts and is looking forward to shooting T. D. White’s saloon feature, Last Licks, and Murder by Word of Mouth, which

hopefully will bring to sharper focus the powerful effects of alcohol and its attendant verbal abuse on children.


Editor


David M. Mercado is the co-owner Berserker Productions which recently partnered with Diving Indians Films to produce a documentary about Chris Hay, former singer/songwriter  of the 1980’s rock group, Men at Work.  David spends his days and nights in post-production in New York City.   Married to Katie, and father of the newly arrived Samsara Marcella Mercado.  


Composer


Matthew Martin Ward was the Musical Director for two editions of “Forbidden Broadway … Strikes Back and Cleans Up Its Act” (DRG Records).  Off-Broadway credits:Whoop-Dee- Doo” (RCA Records), “Nunsense,” and “Ruthless.”   He is the composer of “After the Fair” which received an Outer Critic’s Circle nomination, “Casper,” which toured with the legendary Chita Rivera as star.  His musical, “The Lady in Penthouse B,” was presented at the York Theatre and starred Nancy Dussault. 



Cast Principals


Stephen Lloyd Smith revises and expands his role as Buster Keaton in Buster and the Empty Space (2012)He is a painter working in New York with interests and experience in poetry and film. 


T. D. White is a character actor/singer and writer with history in Law and Order and Sex and the City and in such NYC venues as The Mint, La Mama, Theater for the New City, Queens Theatre in the Park (as Ernest Hemingway), The Barrow Street Theatre and The Kraine.  He is the painter in “Jacques Prevert’s To Paint the Portrait of a Bird” (available at the iTunes store), the title character in Seamus McNally’s The Hypnotist, and here, Samuel Beckett. 


Lou Matthews as The Waitress reprises her stage performance in October of 2011, has  worked with director Joe Quartararo in his first feature, The Candy Flip, as “Belle” and also played one of the fabulous females in the Loose Moon Production of William Dean Howell’s “The Mousetrap” in The Red Room.


Jay Greenberg is our Alan Schneider.  He met T. D. White in a production of Karaoke Night at the Suicide Shack, a play with music about celebrity suicides, and played painter Mark Rothko.  He is an Associate Producer of the Loose Moon Productions film To Paint  the Portrait of a Bird.


Jacob Salas, The Narrator/Barney Rosset, has appeared on Orange is the New Black, As the World Turns, and Gossip Girl, as Trigorin in The Seagull at TheaterLab, and Ned in The Grade at Manhattan Rep. Short film work includes Joe Quartararo’s Charity.


Cast


John AdamsJoe Coffey, the Cameraman

Kyle CameronBusboy

David P. EvansBusboy

Benjamin ForondaThe Ballerina

Camilla Mraz“Blossom Dearie”

Meghan NorbutJazz Groupie

John L.Payne“Norman Grantz”

Edlin Pitts“Miles Davis”

Cynthia Shaw Costumer

Gargi ShindeMystery Woman

Grant Stewart“Art Pepper/Zoot Sims”

Adam WalckThe Beatnik


Crew


Brian McelroyFirst A.D.

Anna KathleenProduction Designer

Annette HeartHair and Make Up

Anthony Carella Assistant Camera

Matthew P. KesslerGaffer

Mick MasseyKey Grip

Mike SutterBest Boy

Sam SchmitzDolly Grip

Nick Ambro2nd  A.D.

Emma Zbiral Teller2nd A.D.

Hannah CaggianoSet Decorator

Rachel Brunell            Set Photographer

Candece MunroeProduction Coordinator

Jose RamirezSound Mixer

Amanda HunerfordProduction Assistant

Shane TorresProduction Assistant

David P. EvansProduction Assistant

Ian Friedman Production Assistant