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Film Festival Spotlights Two Outstanding Independent Films

The Sacramento Gazette
November 3, 2000
By E Haig

The fifth annual Sacramento Film Festival, held last weekend at the Crest Theater, provided local residents with the first viewings of two fine new independent feature length films. As an added bonus two excellent locally produced shorts were also shown.

The festival began on Friday night with the premier of a psychological thriller entitled "Asunder". The film, directed by Tim Reid (one the stars of the lone-running "WKRP in Cincinnati" and the creator of the all-too-short-lived "Frank's Place") from his New Millennium Studios, might best be described as a more literate version of "Fatal Attraction."

We say more literate, because the story is built on serious character studies of flawed individuals instead of the inexplicable libido of an obsessed stalker.

The story revolves around three equally fascinating central figures, a married couple, played by Debbi Morgan and Michael Beach, and a recent widower (the cause of his wife's death is depicted dramatically at the beginning of the film), played by Blair Underwood. With remarkable sensitivity, Mr. Reid reveals the triangle of friendship and sexual betrayal that exists between these three, much as he takes pains to fully develop each of them.

The gradual disintegration of the Underwood character is depicted with the care one associates with Hitchcock at his best, but that care is also evident in the depth of human frailties and complexities that Mr. Reid allows the other two principals to express.

Together these three live out a nightmare of secret horrors and lies, and it is to Mr. Reid's great credit that the story is riveting at the same time that the characters seem real.

There is graphic (but not gratuitous) violence, and it is limited to the film's climactic scenes when the characters have all reached the point where, for each, there is no alternative.

"Asunder" is scheduled to return to the Crest for a limited run after Thanksgiving. We recommend it highly. It is a film that will stay with you for a long time.

Saturday's main offering was the previously-reviewed "Chump Change," written, directed and starring the brilliant Stephen Burrows. This film is so funny that we wonder whether audiences will be able to hear all of the laugh-out-loud lines, so quickly do they follow, one after the other.


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