Short Cuts

Robert Altman's new film Cookie's Fortune has been opening around the country to some of the most universally positive reviews received by any of his films in quite some time. (See this week's "Film Listings" section for one more.) Gone, note most of the reviewers, is Altman's usually dyspeptic stance toward his characters as they stumble through their all-too-human paces. Instead, Cookie's Fortune seems infused with a comic light and grace that shines generously on the characters' foibles and holds them in a warm embrace. Could it be that Altman's gone soft or is that difference we suddenly detect the work of Cookie's screenwriter Anne Rapp? The film is Rapp's first produced screenplay, so we don't have any previous work of hers to compare it with, although she has worked in film production in a variety of capacities for a number of years. During the coming months, however, we in Austin will have an opportunity to become more familiar with her work, since next semester she will be teaching at the Michener Center for Writers on the UT campus. Rapp will also be in town as the film opens in Austin on Friday, April 16 and will attend the 7:10pm screening at the Dobie that evening with her new colleagues ...

Speaking of screenwriting, only three weeks remain to enter the competition for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' Don and Gee Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting, which bestows $25,000 to as many as five winners each year. Entries must be postmarked no later than May 1. The competition is open to any individual who has not sold or optioned a screenplay or teleplay for more than $5,000 or received a fellowship or prize that includes a "first look" clause, an option, or any other quid pro quo involving the writer's work. Entries must include an application form, one copy of an original feature film screenplay in English and the entry fee of $30. Additional information about the Nicholl Fellowships can be found at http://www.oscars.org/nicholl. The Web site also has a printable version of the application form. Otherwise send a business-size (#10), self-addressed, stamped envelope to The Nicholl Fellowships, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, 8949 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90211-1972 ...

Anyone out San Antonio way this week might want to stop in at a special screening of Dancer, TX Pop. 81 with writer-director Tim McCanlies in attendance for a Q&A following the screening. A sweet, wonderful movie about small-town Texas life and dreams, the film was one of the highlights of SXSW Film 98 and played theatrically in Austin for an astonishing number of months straight. The screening takes place on Thursday, April 22 at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center (1300 Guadalupe -- in SA). The event is sponsored by CineSA (Cinema Network of San Antonio), a new group formed to provide educational and networking opportunities for area filmmakers and production personnel. For more info about the organization or its upcoming Film Focus '99 (May 15-16), send e-mail to filmfocus@aol.com or call 210/733-7170 or 800/846-5201 ...

Anyone intrigued by last week's mention in this column of the Cinemaker Co-op's unique Make a Film in a Weekend endeavor and who wants to view the final results should head to the Ritz Lounge Mon., April 19 or Tue., April 20 for either the 7:30 or 10pm screenings. At the very least you will finally discover the identity of the mystery prop. Thirty-six one-reel films will be shown.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Movie, Marge Baumgarten

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