Wednesday, January 16, 2008

'Little Chenier,' a Louisiana indie, debuts Friday

Holy whirlwind working schedule, Batman! I've been busier than a bug in Charlie Wilson's office. Sorry for my absence.

I saw "Mad Money" last night in Dallas, and my review will publish Friday (Thursday evening on the Web.) I'm sure you're canceling your plans.

I also had an absolutely fantastic conversation with Bethany Ashton Wolf this week. Who's she? She directed "Little Chenier," a Louisiana-shot feature starring Johnathon Schaech (that's right, "Road House 2") and Clifton Collins ("Thief," "Capote"), among others.

The little indie gets a regional release Friday and will play in Bossier City and the Regal Louisiana Boardwalk Stadium 14.

It's a drama set in the swamps of Cajun country. It wrapped produced just 31 days before Hurricane Rita wiped out most of its locations in and around the community of Little Chenier. The filmmakers used something like 38 locations spread out over 100 miles, and they had to use john boats to travel to and fro. You can read all about the plot, stories and backstory at

My story and short review about "Little Chenier" publish Friday, too. (Yet more reasons to clear your schedule.)

The story surrounds a mentally retarded character named Pemon, whose brother protects him from a really, really bad sheriff. The story never makes Pemon's disability crystal clear, because Wolf thought it was unnecessary to the story.

Actor Fred Koehler's portrayal is pretty remarkable. "I wanted it to be about his heart and how pure his heart was and very much how a child is," Wolf said. "You’re seeing a person in his whole being and whole soul and from a very childlike perspective. It’s raw and beautiful and honest."

The project is definitely worth a look.

If you don't go for drama, at least go for the alligator. Yes, it's a Louisiana movie and it features a devilish one. Clifton Collins' character gets a little wrestlin' in (via stuntman).

The gator is real. "Her name is Rapper. She was brought in on an 18 wheeler flatbed truck. It took 18 people to lift her and put her in the water," Wolf said. "We did it near the end of the shoot because a lot of people were arguing saying that we should use a fake alligator."

A fake, animatronic one from the movie "Adaptation" was offered up as an alternative, but Wolf wouldn't have it. She's from Lake Charles, dagnabbit. "I’m from Louisiana where people wrestle alligators."

Apparently, a lot of locals were working on the shoot and Wolf had some street cred to defend. She thought, "We’re not going to embarrass ourselves by having this cheap, fake little alligator."

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