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I was the fastest runner on my block — until Harold Maltz moved into the neighborhood. Harold “The Flash” Maltz, that is.
Hence, I can relate to how top dog air traffic controller Nick Falzone (John Cusack) feels in Pushing Tin when he is deposed by the new guy, Russell Bell, a motorcycle-riding hot shot played with the kind of self-assured individuality Billy Bob Thornton conveys so threateningly.
To the Long Island society that he has just intruded, Russell is the renaissance man of air traffic controllers. Women find him interesting.
Half American Indian, he listens to tapes to improve his French vocabulary, projects a Buddhist-like centeredness, and croons by request at Nick’s favorite Italian restaurant. To add insult to injury, at the backyard barbecue where Nick impresses his milieu by shooting the most basketball foul shots, Russell makes like Michael Jordan.
The competition that ensues between Nick and Russell is amusing — at least for a while. But be warned that Pushing Tin is strictly formula Hollywood, even if it is directed by Mike Newell, who led audiences off the beaten track with
Four Weddings and A Funeral (1994). The script by Glen and Les Charles (TV’s “Cheers” team) never seems confident of its big screen identity.
Pushing Tin wants to say all sorts of important things, but without being too upsetting or venturesome. So while we’re made privy to the freneticism that is the air traffic controllers’ world, and then given a guided tour of their culture, the plot safely retreats to romance, a little sex, some infidelity, marital harmony and the lack thereof.
In this case the real saga behind the radar screen is the coming asunder of Nick’s marriage to Connie (Cate Blanchett) and the curious relationship Russell has with his wife, Mary, a siren with a drinking problem played by Angelina Jolie.
There are some memorable moments, and the acting performances are nicely engaging as both sets of lovers square off to the backdrop of potential aeronautical disaster. The possibility of major mishap always lurks, but in an incongruous, sitcom sort of way. Things get a bit hairy when Nick and Russell engage in a contest of dueling radar
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Control Freaks In Love
screens. And later, playing dirty pool, spoilsport Nick foists his attentions on Russell’s enigmatic wife.
Yet it’s hard to believe that the filmmakers are going to punish innocent airline passengers simply because an enraged and seriously demoralized Nick can’t keep his mind on the job. After all, this is a romantic farce and not a black comedy.
That Mr. Newell nonetheless manages a surprising amount of dramatic tension from time to time is a testament to his filmmaking ability.
Mr. Cusack fashions a bit of movie magic himself. As his boyish persona tussles with a case of arrested development, he scores just enough likability to put him in good stead; we’re willing to take it on faith that Nick is worthy of redemption.
And Billy Bob Thornton as his nemesis once again projects a brand of native spirituality that hints at what must be an awesome secret power. The true standout performance is Miss Blanchett (Connie), a devoted, bleached-blonde who takes night courses to better herself and fill in the lonely hours.
The Australian actress’ Long Island accent is astonishing, identifying a whole sub-culture of blue collar suburbanites without spilling over to parody. At a social event, commiserating the pros and cons of their spouses’ occupations, one of Connie’s counterparts tellingly opines: “Hey, all I know is my Ed earned $100,000 last year and he barely made it out of high school.”
Nick’s egotistical plight had potential. But Pushing Tin is a clearly commercial enterprise. And so air traffic controller Falzone’s macho-man craziness is treated with little regard for dramatic credibility. A predictable crisis in the closing moments further points up the silliness.
Will Nick’s obsession cause an air catastrophe? Will Connie and Nick kiss and make up? Will Nick and Russell ever end their rivalry?
I won’t give it away. But you might be happy to note that, in my case, Harold and I became fast friends, though I haven’t seen him since childhood.
Pushing Tin, rated R, is a Fox 2000 Pictures release directed by Mike Newell and stars John Cusack, Cate Blanchett and Billy Bob Thornton. Running time: 115 minutes
Pippin Production Slated At Cranford Dramatic Club
CRANFORD – The Cranford Dramatic Club, located at 78 Winans Avenue in Cranford will begin its spring musical, Pippin, on Fridays and Saturdays from May 7 to May 22 at 8 p. m.
Pippin takes place in the 8 th century during the reign of Charlemagne. The play includes music, comedy, satire and explores the themes of love, war and power.
Maurice Moran is the director and Liz Howard is producer and assistant director. Mary Beth
McFall is the musical director and Janice Lynn is choreographer. Elliot Lanes is stage manager.
Cast members will include Nicole Caprio, Corinne Chandler, F. B. DeRobertis, Charles Del Risco, John Duryee, Jo Anne Geshickter, Leah Glaasofer, Josh Lieberman, Melissa Loderstedt, Janice Lynn, Leilani Makuakane, Gabe Nazziola, Matt Price, George Shuan, Hope Weinstein, Mary Webb, Marilyn Vice and Ed Wittel.
For ticket reservations, please call (908) 2767611.
PREPARING FOR PIPPIN… The Cranford Dramatic Club, located at 78 Winans Avenue in Cranford will begin its spring musical, Pippin, on Fridays and Saturdays from May 7 to May 22 at 8 p. m. Pictured, left to right, are: George Shuhan, Joanne Geschickter, Leilani Makuakane, Hope Weinstein, Nicole Caprio, FJ Robertis, Ed Wittel, Leah Glasshofer, Josh Lieberman, Mary Brunton Webb, and Matthew Price.
Annual Program On Tap By Musical Club of Westfield
WESTFIELD – On Wednesday, May 12, at 8 p. m., the Musical Club of Westfield will present its annual Music Week program at the First Baptist Church in Westfield. The concert is open to the public.
Soprano Ginger Haselden will sing “Serate Musicali” “La Pastorella delle Alpi,” and “La Promessa, Canzonetta” by Rossini. Two pieces by Debussy will be “Beau Soir” and “Aquarelles (Green).” She will also sing “Monica’s Waltz” from Menotti. Louise Andrews will be the piano accompanist.
Clarinetist George Toenes will play “Concerto for Clarinet in A Major,” by Mozart.
Elsa Gail Hahn, soprano, will be accompanied by MarieDaniele at piano. Ms. Hahn will sing “Tu che gel sei cinto” by Puccini; “Standchen” by Strauss; and “This Place is Mine” from Phantom, by Yeston.
Ms. Hahn will be joined by Ann Mineur Weeks, soprano, for duets from Madame Butterfly and Annie
Get Your Gun. Pam Johnson and Olga Slavina will perform a selection by Brahms.
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WESTFIELD — The Arbor Chamber Music Society will perform its final concert for the 19981999 season on Saturday, May 15, at 8 p. m. at the Burgdorff Cultural Center, 10 Durand Road, in Maplewood.
An additional performance will be held on Sunday, May 16, at 4 p. m. at the St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 414 East Broad Street, in Westfield.
The performance will feature the Duo for Violin and Cello, composed by New Jersey composer George Antheil. Violinist Sara Parkins, cellist Matthias Naegele and pianist Lenore Davis will perform.
The music will also include Bach’s “Sonata for Viola Da Gamba” and keyboard in D Major, Beethoven’s Sonata for Violin and Piano in G major and Brahms’ Piano Trio in C Major.
The Arbor Chamber Music Society, founded in 1991 by pianist Lenore Fishman Davis, has performed for seven years in New Jersey. It has developed a devoted following and has received high critical acclaim.
A preconcert talk by composer John Sichel will take place at each venue 45 minutes before the per formance.
Cellist Matthias Naegele has performed as a soloist and chamber musician in Europe, the United States, Mexico, Brazil and Asia.
Violinist Sara Parkins has performed with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s Chamber Ensemble, the Philharmonia Virtuosi, the New York Symphony Ensemble and the Apple Hill Chamber Players.
Pianist Lenore Davis, founding director of the Arbor Chamber Music Society, has appeared as a soloist and a chamber musician in concert halls throughout the United States and in Europe.
The Arbor Chamber Music Society is funded, in part, by the New Jersey Council on the Arts through a grant administered by the Essex County Office of Cultural and Heritage Affairs.
Admission will be $17.50 per concert and $14 for seniors. Fourconcert subscriptions for the 19992000 series are $60 and $48, respectively. Students are admitted free (recommended for ages 10 years and older).
To purchase tickets, or for more information, please call (908) 2321116 or write Arbor Chamber Music, PO Box 2901, Westfield, 07091.
WESTFIELD MUSICIANS… Ginger Haselden, Soprano, and Georges Toenes, Clarinetist, will participate in the annual Music Week program of the Musical Club of Westfield on Wednesday, May 12, at 8 p. m. at the First Baptist Church in Westfield.
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The NJPAC will host The Ellington Centennial Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis on Wednesday, May 12, at 7: 30 p. m. Tickets are $15-$ 64 and are available by calling 1888GONJPAC
Art Art Art Art Art Exhibit: “Places Near & Far” by Cheryl O’Halloran McLeod at The Children’s Specialized Hospital in Mountainside through May 30.
Exhibit: “Full Exposure: Contemporary Photography” at the New Jersey Center for Visual Arts in Summit from May 7 to June 20.
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The Tales of Hoffman, opera by Jacques Offenbach performed by the Stony Hill Players on May 8, 9, 1, 15, 16, at the Oakes Memorial Outreach Center in Summit. Saturday performaces are 7: 30 p. m., Sunday performances are 3 p. m. For tickets, please call (908) 4647716.
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Story Hour reading of “Thomas the Tank Engine” to be hosted by the Welcome Wagon of Westfield at Barnes & Noble in Clark on Thursday, May 13, at 4 p. m.
Book Signing with Gordon Bishop, journalist and columnist. He will discuss his book, “Gateway to America” at Barnes & Noble in Clark on Thursday, May 13, at 7: 30 p. m.
Music Music Music Music Music
The Crossroads in Garwood will welcome “The Fins” on Saturday, May 8, and “Second Reality” on Thursday, May 13.
American Repertory Ballet will present “An American Cinderella” on Saturday, May 15, at 7 p. m. and Sunday, May 16, at 2 p. m. at the State Theatre in New Brunswick. Tickets are available by calling (732) 2467469.
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SCOTCH PLAINS — The Francis Chalif Scholarship Audition given by Associated Dance Teachers (ADT) of New Jersey was held on March 28 in Chester.
Laura Mazzucca and Christine Brock, both of Scotch Plains, won first and third place, respectively. The scholarship is given each year to high school students whose teacher is a member of ADT of New Jersey.
The entrants perform a routine in the dance discipline designated for that year. The scholarship alternates between ballet, tap or jazz every three years. This year, the
GRACEFUL POSES… Christine Brock, left, and Laura Mazzucca demonstrate their dance skills. The young women, both students at The Moderne Acadamie of Fine Arts in Scotch Plains, were winners in the recent Francis Chalif Scholarship Audition sponsored by Associated Dance Teachers of New Jersey.
Date Change Posted For Choral Concert SCOTCH PLAINS — A date change has been announced for the Scotch PlainsFanwood High School Choral Concert in the high school auditorium. The concert will take place on Thursday, May 13, at 7: 30 p. m. category was ballet and both girls
performed a pointe solo. The girls take dance classes at The Moderne Acadamie of Fine Arts in Scotch Plains.
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MINT CONDITION RANCH
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Westfield Office 209 Central Avenue
©1997 Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage Corporation. An Equal Opportunity Company. Equal Housing Opportunity. Each Office Independently Owned and Operated.
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©1997 Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage Corporation. An Equal Opportunity Company. Equal Housing Opportunity. Each Office Independently Owned and Operated. E-mail Barbara at BrokerBMC@aol.com