Charlottesville Breaking News

'Natural Selection': Meanie 'Hangover' actress plays nice

Rachael Harris can play mean, and in the 2009 smash hit Hangover, she plays really mean as Melissa, the girlfriend of Ed Helms' character, Stu.

"My agent was getting calls for me to play the shrew," says Harris. "You can get pigeon-holed."

She's already been a bit pigeon-holed into comedy ever since joining the Groundlings, the legendary Los Angeles improv troupe, and over the past decade she's appeared in sitcoms such as Reno 911, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Desperate Housewives.

"As much as I love sitcoms, can we try to branch out?" asks Harris in a chat about her upcoming visit to Charlottesville and her role in Natural Selection. That's the new indie film that scored big at the South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin, and which she describes as a "coming of age" movie about a woman in her 40s.

"You don't see scripts like that," says Harris, who plays Linda White, a devout Christian in a childless marriage whose husband has a stroke in a sperm bank, to which he's been a regular depositor for the past 25 years.

"I really connected with Linda," says Harris. "She journeys from a very small town and has a trusting personality. I grew up in a small town, and I know what it's like to want to believe there's something good in everyone."

Her upcoming appearance at the Virginia Fil...

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Hazardous act: UVA grad had 'JFK' moment

Sarah Lyman Kravits, UVA class of 1988, was in grad school in Washington when she was picked for a few moments of screen time in Oliver Stone's 1991 film, JFK. "Oliver Stone wanted everyone smoking," remembers Kravits, a nonsmoker. "I was trying to concentrate on not looking like an idiot smoking."

The nonsmokers were given clove cigarettes. "They were making me feel ill," says Kravits in a phone call from New Jersey, where she now lives. "I didn't want to put it out because I wasn't very good at lighting cigarettes."

Ten takes later, they had the scene in which Donald Sutherland walks through the Pentagon past Kravits, who plays a general's secretary and waves him into a smoke-filled meeting room.

"Oliver Stone kept calling me 'honey,'" says Kravits. Sutherland was quite a character– and shoeless, she reveals, although that wasn't visible to viewers.

Kravits has moved from drama to parenthood and textbook writing, but she fondly remembers her bouffant-haired stint as an extra in JFK, which will have a 20th anniversary screening with Stone at this year's Virginia Film Festival.

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Festival faces: Spacek, Stone, Sabato, and Wasikowska

Just in case the movies aren't enough, the Virginia Film Festival sprinkles in a few stars.

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Grindin’ it out: Kevin Everson keeps on filming

It’s hard to tell whether Charlottesville’s resident experimental filmmaker Kevin Everson spends more time behind the viewfinder of his 16mm camera or at airports.

Since 2010, Everson’s films have played at, among other venues, the Toronto Film Festival, the New York Film Festival, and throughout Europe and South America, frequently with him in attendance. The Whitney Museum’s Everson retrospective ran from April to September and was warmly reviewed by the likes of the New York Times. His films were also released in a 3-DVD set called Broad Daylight and Other Times.

Meanwhile, he continuously made new movies, five of which are screening at this year’s Film Festival in an hour-long program, hosted by Everson.

Everson, 45, seems pleased by– but wary of– his critical laurels. “It’s Kool and the Gang,” he says. “I’m just grindin’ it out. It’s good. I take it with a grain of salt, because at the end of the day, I’ve got to make new s***. So I never let it get to me...

“I’ve got no problem with it,” he laughs.

Everson’s latest movies are “an exercise in form,” he explains. “There’s five films, but three different forms.” Most are fiction, but one is a semi-documentary.

Predictable Everson isn’t. With his usual avant-garde flair, he “did three films based on Columbus, Mississippi, that aren’t shot in Columbus, Mississippi,” he says wryly. “They’re shot in...

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Best o' the fest: What real filmmakers want to see

Salivation. That's what happens when you're a cinephile and you pick up the program for the 24th annual Virginia Film Festival and see all those unreleased new movies, and all those classics you've wanted to revisit, and all those films you really won't get to see anywhere else, and the filmmakers and actors who will be in town, and then–

Head explosion. How in the world are you going to sift through the more 100 screenings and cram in as many as possible during the few short festival days of November 3-6?

Expert assessment. That's where the Hook steps in, offering insight into what the pros are going to see.

And we'll caution you: Some of the obvious must-sees– The Descendants, the new George Clooney movie; Melancholia, the new Lars von Trier film; and JFK with director Oliver Stone– sold out in the first 72 hours, although festival director Jody Kielbasa says there may be a few tickets turned back in by the time the festival starts. We Need to Talk about Kevin also has sold out.

Advance ticket sales are up 25 percent over last year, Kielbasa says, and 2010 was a record-breaking year in which 17 films sold out. More advice from the Hook: Get those tickets now, before it's too late.

Here's what four locals in the film biz have on their go-see lists.

Chris Farina

UVA grad Chris Farina directed ...

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