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JP and his Love (& Demons)

JP places the drunken cherry with purpose into the Manhattan he meticulously makes for me. Everything with him is a clear well executed thing of beauty. One can detect Texas on his tongue ever so slightly. He’s got my favourite kind of face: one marked with joy, intelligence, sorrow, sensuality and something a little bit scary. The scary thing is the honesty.  Being a true blue gentleman, he also knows the art of silence for the sake of mercy. In his life. In his films.images-1 02b7cca18c6f13724a2d12d0609f668d 1376390_10151933566665943_405782331_n Unknown-1 Unknown-2 Unknown

He tells me one of my favourite JP stories. He was down visiting his Dad before he passed away. His Dad was quite along in years and suffering from dementia. JP made him one of these Manhattans and his Dad drawled, “I don’t know who the hell you people are, but this is one damn good drink.”

I first met JP through Ron Reed at Pacific Theatre. They’ve been best friends – more like brothers – since Cal Arts. I had seen his smart play Casino and enjoyed his performance of Macbeth. I heard he focused on film. When I went to San Francisco to do No Exit, JP elected to be my tour guide and took me to all the cool neighbourhoods in the Bay simply because I was a friend of Ron’s. I always forgot a jacket and he always gave me his. We were both coming out of a divorce and he was starting to exorcise…some scribbles over Scotch…some dialogue over morning coffee…some images on a walk…he wouldn’t talk about it. He just said it was about love. And demons.

I tittered around town, all Marilyn Monroe blonde and optimistic. I tip toed down steep streets in high heels every day, my scarf fluttering in the San Francisco wind, sunglasses and red lipstick. My face was on the sides of busses, I was being asked for my autograph, men would cat call me from across the street. I was staying in a nice hotel near Union Square Park and I was falling in love with a gorgeous man who flew out all champagne and roses to further assure me we were “meant for each other.”

JP was still my friend when I was back home, horrifically dumped, unemployed, commuting back and forth two hours a day from Richmond, my hair fried and falling out. JP received many weepy letters to which he simply replied, “You’re a fantastic beautiful woman, Lucia. You will find love.” He was so sure of himself, I had to believe him.”And…remember that Love & Demons thing…? Well, I’ll be ready to shoot it in the spring. I want you to be in it.”

He wants me to star in his film? I have one film credit. A short. (I cast myself). With all due respect, is he crazy?

“Lucia, you’re a brilliant actor. That’s all I need to know.” He assures me.

JP is a maverick. He doesn’t want anyone telling him how to make a film. There is no way in hell he’s going to kiss the ass of any producer, adhere to a Gulino plot line, change his ending to be “happy”, throw his money at festivals or cast a star. (though he did do a film with Melissa Leo, but only because she was great and hadn’t won an Oscar yet) So, out of his own pocket, he writes, directs, performs and largely produces his own films and has become a master at economy. I would not advise anyone to take this route. It’s a hard road and you have to be good at everything. He is. JP also has a tight knit group of devoted friends he works with. It’s a wonderful artistic family. He’s gaining a bit of a cult following in San Francisco and he’s getting some excellent reviews for his work, particularly for this show and for Centaur, one of my favourite Indy films ever. Mick LaSalle from the San Fran Chronicle wrote about Love & Demons:

“This is adventurous filmmaking. Uninhibited by a tight budget, Allen is pursuing a specific and distinct vision; and he’s succeeding. This is a director worth watching.”

Among other grand and true and flattering things.

During the making of this film JP fell in love with and married the wonderful Cathy Montosa. He also nearly died during filming, was in the hospital for a long time, but he’ll never tell you about that. Nope. He’s too busy working on his next screenplay. And I think JP will live this way for decades to come, creating films distinctive, his own way. I can see him in forty years, holding up a Manhattan, saying,

“I don’t know who the hell you people are, but this is one damn good drink.”

Love & Demons is making its Vancouver debut this Saturday at the Pacific Theatre space, 8pm, Aug 2nd.

 

 

 

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