Whether it’s Aladdin’s Wonderful Lamp, a magic fish who’ll grant all your wishes if you’ll just toss him back into the sea or the winning Powerball ticket, the notion of a MacGuffin that will solve all one’s worldly problems is a plot hook that never seems to lose its appeal. The moral of such stories, of course, is always some variant on “Be careful what you wish for,” because the consequences of unearned riches are far worse for poverty-stricken finders of magical objects in the fictional universe than they generally seem to be for scions of wealthy families in the real one.
Karmic quibbles aside, the latest pop-culture product playing with this time-honored theme is a feature film made in our midst, and it’s an excellent example of how local communities can benefit from the efforts of the Hudson Valley Programmers’ Group to entice movie producers to shoot their films in our region. The movie is called The Brass Teapot; a Magnolia Pictures release, it was produced by Darren Goldberg, directed by Ramaa Mosley and stars Juno Temple (Atonement, Little Birds, The Dark Knight Rises) and Michael Angarano (Sky High, Lords of Dogtown, Will & Grace).
Billed as a “magical dark comedy,” The Brass Teapot is the story of John and Alice, a married couple in their 20s. Once voted Most Likely to Succeed, Alice struggles to make ends meet while her friends enjoy the good life. Neurotic and riddled with phobias, John just wants to get the bills paid. An accident leads them to a roadside antique shop where Alice is drawn to a mysterious brass teapot that may prove to be the answer to all of their financial woes.
It’s a safe bet that John and Alice are in for some sort of Puritanical comeuppance, but at least a bit of The Brass Teapot’s magic seems to have rubbed off on the mid-Hudson Valley. “The Brass Teapot was the first production to use the state-of-the-art Umbra of Newburgh stage,” said film commissioner Laurent Rejto, familiar to Almanac Weekly readers as co-founder/director of the Woodstock Film Festival. “The film also used the Newburgh Armory Unity Center for staging. On top of that, the production rented 900 room nights at the Fishkill Extended Stay, hired a local caterer, ten crewmembers, and they worked with a local casting agent out of Beacon for extras casting. The production benefited multiple counties, especially Dutchess and Orange, over a six-week period and generated well over $400,000 in direct spending.”
The Brass Teapot had its world premiere at the 2012 Toronto Film Festival and is scheduled for general theatrical release on April 5. But it’s only fitting, given the project’s gestation, that sneak previews are on tap this weekend for two of the mid-Hudson towns in which it was made. It will be screened at 8 p.m. on Friday, March 22 at the Beacon Theatre in Beacon, and again at 8 p.m. this Saturday, March 23 at Newburgh’s small, intimate not-for-profit film venue, the Downing Film Center, with a wine-and-cheese reception with some of the cast and crew preceding the show at 7:15.
Admission costs $10 at the Beacon Theatre and $12, reception included, at the Downing Film Center. For tickets, contact the individual venues directly or visit https://hvpg.org.
The Brass Teapot Hudson Valley premieres, Friday, March 22, 8 p.m., $10, Beacon Theatre, 445 Main Street, Beacon, (845) 226-8099, www.thebeacontheatre.org; Saturday, March 23, 8 p.m. screening, 7:15 reception, $12, Downing Film Center, 19 Front Street, Newburgh, (845) 561-3686, www.downingfilmcenter.com.