Magazine article Dance Magazine

The "Savage Musical" That Dances

Magazine article Dance Magazine

The "Savage Musical" That Dances

Article excerpt

Actor-director John Turturro loves dance. In directing his fourth film, Romance & Cigarettes, that love is obvious and unabashed. The movie, which is scheduled to be released this fall by United Artists/Sony, is a "savage musical," as Turturro describes it. The plot concerns a Queens construction worker, Nick Murder (James Gandolfini), whose wife (Susan Sarandon) catches him having a lusty affair with a crass lingerie-shop employee (Kate Winslet). Christopher Walken and Steve Buscemi also star as friends of the family.

The film is a musical, in the strictest definition of the term during dialogue sequences, people burst into song, and the musical interludes pour vivid reveries into the sludge of an ordinary family turmoil.

However, in many ways the film is like nothing we've ever seen. Instead of the main characters delivering all the singing, acting, and dancing in the ta-dah! tour de force manner to which we are accustomed from traditional musicals, the three disciplines are practiced by the artists who do them best, Singers sing, actors act, and dancers dance, leaving the screen wide open for an unprecedented event in a studio film--some of the most esteemed dancers, mostly from the modern dance world, performing alongside famous Hollywood actors.

"I've always been a person who likes to do things physically, either onstage or in movies," said Turturro in a recent interview. The film is a longtime dream for Turturro, who once contemplated becoming a dancer. He jotted down the idea for Romance & Cigarettes 14 years ago in front of a 1940s Underwood typewriter during the filming of Barton Fink, in which he played the title role. He was influenced by the work of screenwriter Dennis Potter (Pennies from Heaven) and Jerome Robbins. "The prologue in West Side Story is ballet and modern dance ... and it has a lot of character . …

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