The Boston Phoenix
Review from issue: September 7 - 14, 2000

[Boston Film Festival]

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This handsome documentary attempts to capture the spirit of an artist in broad strokes; instead it underlines an anomaly. In the 1960s, New York City ballet dancer Marta Becket and her husband, Tom Willet, stopped for gas in Death Valley Junction, California, and they're still there. Marta felt spiritually drawn to the derelict mining town (formerly called Amargosa), and she envisioned the crumbling opera house as a chalice for her artistic passions. It took her almost a decade to restore the structure and paint the intricate interior mural. Word of her eccentric establishment spread, and busloads of people have trekked to the middle of nowhere to take in her kitschy blend of opera, vaudeville, and ballet -- at nearly 80, Marta is still performing.

Todd Robinson's contemplative style makes for a languorous movie. The most engaging blips are delivered by author Ray Bradbury (a big Marta fan), and Marta herself is most interesting when she's discussing the haunted hotel or the time she went to a brothel to seek marital advice. The truest artist here is cinematographer Curt Apduhan, whose overhead sweeps of the ghost town and the sands surrounding it are stunning. Screens tonight at 6:45 and 9 p.m. and tomorrow at 12:30, 2:45, and 5 p.m. Director Todd Robinson will appear at tonight's 6:45 screening.

-- Tom Meek

Film Festival Feature Films

Shadow of the Vampire | Songcatcher | Venus Beauty Institute | What's Cooking? | The Broken Hearts Club | Envy | Goya in Bordeaux | Human Resources | Skipped Parts | Amargosa | Henry Hill | Relative Values | The Rising Place | The Contender | Pitch People | Roof to Roof | Four Dogs Playing Poker | Reckless Indifference | Requiem for a Dream | Shadow Magic | About Adam | Charming Billy | Enemies of Laughter | Into the Arms of Strangers | Running on the Sun | A Trial in Prague | Harry, He's Here to Help | A Man is Mostly Water | Seven Girlfriends

Also, Boston Film Festival short films

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