Review: The John C. Rice – May Irwin Kiss

July 28, 2006

Also known as The Kiss, Kiss Scene, The May Irwin Kiss, and The Picture of a Kiss, The John C. Rice–May Irwin Kiss is one of the most familiar of nineteenth-century films. Short and succinct, it shows actress May Irwin and actor John C. Rice enacting the climax to the play The Widow Jones. The actors are shot in medium close-up, against a black background, lit by the sun overhead.

If you didn’t already know the play, the film alone might be a bit baffling. Or inscrutable. Watching it today, it has the starkness, the lack of artifice of a home movie. As with other home movies, you are dropped into an alien setting, with no explanation of the people you are seeing or what they are doing. Filmmaker William Heise doesn’t try to define the performers as characters in a story–through the use of props, for example. Intertitles that could have provided dialogue hadn’t been invented yet. Heise assumes that if you are watching The Kiss, you already know about the plot to The Widow Jones. You also already know who these people are, as well as their histories and relationship together. For viewers at the end of the nineteenth, especially those in New York, this could very well have been true. Largely forgotten today, May Irwin was once one of the most recognizable actresses in the country. Around her name swirl most of the significant theatrical names of the late nineteenth century.

Irwin was born Ada Campbell in Ontario in 1862 and educated in a convent school with her older sister Georgia. They attracted some local attention as singers, enough so that their widowed mother brought them to the United States in search of work. Appearing in Buffalo in 1875, they were named “The Irwin Sisters” by a theater manager. (Georgia by this time was appearing as “Flo.”) Two years later they were performing in New York City, for showman Tony Pastor and others.

In 1883, Irwin signed with Augustin Daly, the most influential playwright and producer in the city. His stable of actors included John Drew, Otis Skinner, and Ada Rehan. Irwin developed as a comedienne, appearing in Sir Arthur Wing Pinero’s Girls and Boys at the end of the year, and then in a series of Daly’s own plays. After touring with Daly’s troupe in London, Irwin left to join a Boston theater company, giving up legitimate roles to concentrate on music hall skits. One such farce, Home Rule, was written by former newspaper critic John J. McNally.

In 1893 she was hired by Charles Frohman, one of the primary architects of the “star system,” to appear with the highly respected Henry Miller in His Wedding Day. In a comic afterpiece, she introduced “After the Ball,” the first million-selling song. She would later introduce “A Hot Time in the Old Town.”

Starting in 1893, McNally and others began writing full-length “entertainments” for her. These were essentially light comedies with music, and in a way set a template for musical comedies in the early twentieth century. One was The Widow Jones, in which she played Beatrice Jones, a somewhat stout woman who avoided romantic entanglements by pretending to be a widow. In it she introduced a ragtime song, “I’m Looking for de Bully,” which she sang in an exaggerated black dialect, an unfortunate contribution to the growing trend in “coon songs.” (It appeared in sheet music as “Mary Irwin’s Bully song,” word and music by Charles. E. Trevathan. Trevathan, a sports writer for a Chicago newspaper, claimed that he heard “Mama Lou” sing it in a St. Louis bordello run by Babe Connors.)

Irwin’s appearance may come as a bit of a shock today. Stout, matronly, with strong features, she’s more like the later character actors Marie Dressler or Marjorie Main than a romantic lead. Still, getting Irwin to appear in an Edison film was a real coup at the time. The motion picture division was in financial trouble, with almost no library of titles to exploit. The idea of selling individual kinetoscopes had been replaced with the concept of projecting them onto a screen. Instead of one customer per film viewing, exhibitors could sell many tickets for each screening. In April, 1896, this was still a new experience for everyone involved. Films had only recently been shown to the public at all, at Koster & Bial’s Music Hall earlier that month.

The film was sponsored by the New York World, which publicized both the film and the play in the April 26, 1896 edition of the Sunday World. Kissing on stage had become a growing concern, and in its article the World pretended to discuss the topic seriously by showing as much of it as it could. The article included many illustrations of the actual kiss, as well as descriptions of the film and the play. Publicity and promotion were just as important in the 1890s as today, and the article represented one prong in a three-way campaign to make money for everyone involved. The newspaper, the theater staging the play, and the filmmakers all stood to profit from it and from each other.

While it’s always risky to cite firsts in film history, this is the first of countless kisses ever recorded on film. Edison filmmakers were not shy about exploiting the medium for sex and violence. A film released the previous year was called The Execution of Mary Queen of Scots, and it showed just that: an executioner beheading a stuffed dummy representing the English queen. Here’s how the Edison catalogue promoted the Irwin film: “They get ready to kiss, begin to kiss, and kiss and kiss and kiss in a way that brings down the house every time.” At $7.50 a copy, The Kiss was the company’s most popular title of the year, based on the number of copies sold. (At that time, exhibitors would purchase individual films outright, then assemble their own program of shorts.) By the fall The Kiss was often being used to close a film program.

According to historian Charles Musser, this was the first film that disrupted the lives of its cast. Based on his stage portrayal, Rice became a bona fide star. Irwin, thirty-four at the time, thought that he made her play “old” on stage, and had him replaced with an actor named Dickson. Rice in turn developed a vaudeville act with his wife that was based on the film. In his playlet, called A School for Acting, he taught her how to kiss for the movies. Meanwhile, the public clamored for a reunion between Irwin and Rice. She reluctantly acceded. (Others in the cast of The Widow Jones included Roland Carter, Jacques Krueger, and Grace Vaughn. The play enjoyed brief revival in 1902.)

Irwin’s hits continued after The Widow Jones. By the early twentieth century, she had her own management company, and full control of her career. She starred in another film, Mrs. Black Is Back, based on a 1904 play by George V. Hobart. Plot synopses describe a dizzying whirl of mistaken identities, cross-dressing, blackface, slapstick car crashes, and broad humor, like an exercise program that causes Mrs. Black to gain ten pounds. It was filmed partially at her summer home on the St. Lawrence River in upstate New York. Her last comic stage role was in 1919’s On the Hiring Line. She retired from show business completely in 1922. Her first husband, whom she married in 1878, died in 1886. Her second marriage, to her manager in 1907, lasted until her death. Irwin died of pneumonia following a stroke in 1938.

The Kiss was one of the last films shot at the Black Maria, which had become obsolete in less than a decade. The distance from New York to the West Orange, New Jersey, studio was a factor, as it was difficult to convince performers to travel such a long way to appear in an untested medium. One filmmaker who tried to work there found the trash-filled studio’s ceiling stuck open, so that performers had to work in the cold. Filmmakers were discovering that they could assemble a “studio” almost anywhere there was sunlight–on the roof of a Manhattan office building, for example. And the general trend in films was towards travelogues anyway, not snippets from plays and stories. Nevertheless, Edison released a sequel of sorts, The Kiss, with different actors, in 1900.

So much history surrounds this short film, from the rise of theater as a business to race relations to the growth of a celebrity culture to using public relations as an advertising tool. Movies would grow vastly more complex in the coming years, but they would not stray very far from the strategies and tactics employed in The Kiss.

Cast and credits

Cast: May Irwin (Widow Jones), John C. Rice (stage name for John C. Hilburg, in the role of Billie Bilke).

Credits: Directed and photographed by William Heise.

Edison, 1896. B&W, 1.33, silent. Length: 50 feet (approximately 20 seconds).

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Review: My Super Ex-Girlfriend

July 21, 2006

It’s been five years since Ivan Reitman’s Evolution, almost a generation in the film industry. In fact, most of the potential audience for My Super Ex-Girlfriend wasn’t even alive when Reitman helped rewrite the rules for movie comedies back in the 1980s. The director reworks ideas from his biggest successes in his new project, giving My Super Ex-Girlfriend the feel of a greatest hits package at times. But despite clever writing by Simpsons veteran Don Payne, this high-concept comedy lacks the starpower to become a true blockbuster.

The opening is quick and efficient, with nerdy architect Matt Saunders (Luke Wilson) winning art gallery manager Jenny Johnson (Uma Thurman) by trying to catch a purse snatcher. Their first tentative dates reveal Jenny to be neurotically grasping and Matt next-to-spineless. It turns out that Jenny is also G-Girl, a superheroine whose exploits are often just another inconvenience for jaded New Yorkers.

Jenny makes Matt promise not to reveal her secret identity, even when her arch-enemy Professor Bedlam (Eddie Izzard) hangs him from the torch on the Statue of Liberty. But Matt soon learns that his biggest problem is Jenny’s superhuman neediness. When she discovers that he’s falling for his co-worker Hannah Lewis (Anna Faris), G-Girl responds by hurling his car into orbit.

The rest of the film details Matt’s attempts to placate Jenny and declare his love for Hannah, just like Robert Redford playing off Debra Winger and Darryl Hannah in Legal Eagles. In the meantime Bedlam concocts a scheme to destroy G-Girl once and for all, a plot device that can’t disguise the fact that My Super Ex-Girlfriend is all set-up and no pay-off. Reitman flirts with some off-color material, throws in one special effects sequence involving a shark that evokes the euphoric action in Ghostbusters, and then basically treads water until the contrived happy ending.

Uma Thurman doesn’t hold back, either as Jenny or G-Girl, injecting a sexy energy into a film that can sometimes seem stodgy. Supporting players like Izzard and Rainn Wilson (from NBC’s The Office) make the most of their underwritten parts. Izzard’s explanation of the difference between “kill” and “neutralize” is a textbook example of shaping material to fit a personal style. But Wilson, whose changing hair color suggests that the film underwent a lot of reshoots, proves that in a project like this, being affable isn’t enough. He and Faris, a fixture in the Scary Movie franchise, can’t generate enough excitement to keep the film afloat. Their romance, the least interesting aspect of the story, is more insipid than wholesome.

The real question My Super Ex-Girlfriend poses is how much of an audience remains for Reitman’s glossy, brand-name style of comedy. The funniest parts of the script, like its characters’ casual acceptance of a comic book reality, are so subdued that they can be missed entirely. Reitman plays up the story’s sex, but seems reluctant to go as far as The Wedding Crashers or The 40-Year-Old Virgin. With films like Meatballs and Stripes, Reitman was a major factor in the coarsening of American comedies. Perhaps it’s fittingly ironic that the genre seems to have passed him by.

Cast and credits

Cast: Uma Thurman, Luke Wilson, Anna Faris, Eddie Izzard, Rainn Wilson, Wanda Sykes, Margaret Ann Florence, Stelio Savante, Mike Iorio, Mark Consuelos.

Credits: Directed by Ivan Reitman. Written by Don Payne. Produced by Gavin Polone, Arnon Milchan. Executive producer: Bill Carraro. Director of photography: Don Burgess. Production designer: Jane Musky. Edited by Sheldon Kahn, Wendy Green Bricmont. Costume designer: Laura Jean Shannon. Music by Teddy Castellucci. Music supervisor: Patrick Houlihan. Stunt coordinator: George Aguilar. Visual effects supervisor: Erik Nash. Special visual effects and digital animation by Digital Domain. A Recency Enterprises presentation of a New Regency/Pariah production.

Twentieth Century Fox/Color/2.35/Dolby Digital, DTS & SDDS/96 Mins./Rated PG-13


Review: The Oh in Ohio

July 19, 2006

Treading into Don Roos territory, only without his bite or malice, The Oh in Ohio would like to be seen as a risky, subversive comedy about sexual dysfunction in middle America. Closer in spirit to the lame Hollywood sex comedies of a generation ago, the film wastes a talented cast in a series of increasingly pointless skits about orgasms.

That’s what the “Oh” in the title refers to, or more specifically to housewife and businesswoman Priscilla Chase’s (Parker Posey) inability to achieve one. Married for ten years to schlubby high school biology teacher Jack Chase (Paul Rudd), Priscilla claims that she’s never even seen her genitalia, much less masturbated or enjoyed any other form of sexual pleasure. After consulting with a colleague (Keith David) who is doubling as a high school coach and counselor (“I’m here to hear”), Jack gives up on his marriage, starts an affair with lissome student Kristen Bartlett (Mischa Barton), and moves into an apartment in the Manly Arms.

Priscilla’s sexual abstinence has led her to a vice-presidency in a public relations firm that tries to attract foreign businesses to Cleveland. When a group therapy vagina pep talk (led by Liza Minnelli in a shawl embroidered with the word “Masturbation”) fails to cure her frigidity, Priscilla turns to an adult novelty store staffed by an unbilled Heather Graham. After trying a vibrator “starter kit,” Priscilla becomes an orgasm addict, even wearing a vibrating cell phone during an important business meeting. She quickly moves on to one-night stands, all unsatisfying. It’s not until she has a date with Wayne (Danny DeVito), who installs backyard pools, that Priscilla begins to experience happiness.

The sight of Posey, Minnelli, and Graham fondling sexual aids and chattering about orgasms is meant to reduce you to helpless laughter, but it will more likely leave you wondering how many bad choices it takes to destroy a career. Posey offers a full panoply of grimaces, shrieks, and tics in lieu of a real performance. Rudd retreats into his beard and musty wardrobe as his part shrinks away. The reliable Keith David and a surprisingly low-key DeVito come off fairly well, while Mischa Barton proves again that her beauty is impervious to any role.

First-time director Billy Kent, a veteran of commercials and MTV “parody” spots, deserves the brunt of the blame for a film rife with missed opportunities. Chalk up the slipshod timing, sitcom lighting, and punchless gags to inexperience, but that doesn’t excuse Ohio‘s inane plotting, one-dimensional characters, and sniggering tone. “Oh” also stands for zero.

Cast and credits

Cast: Parker Posey, Paul Rudd, Mischa Barton, Miranda Bailey, Keith David, Tim Russ, Robert John Burke, Liza Minnelli, Danny DeVito.

Credits: Directed by Billy Kent. Written by Adam Wierzbianski. Story by Billy Kent, Sarah Bird. Produced by Miranda Bailey, Francey Grace, Amy Salko Robertson. Executive producers: Debra Grieco, Matthew Leutwyler, Jun Tan. Director of photography: Ramsey Nickell. Edited by Paul Bertino, Michael R. Miller. Production design: Martina Buckley. Costume design: Bruce Finlayson. Music by Bruno Coon, Todd Homme, Michael Muhlfriedel. A Cyan Pictures presentation, in association with The AV Club, of an Ambush Entertainment production.

Cyan Pictures/Color/2.35/Dolby/98 Mins./Not rated


Review: Edmond

July 19, 2006

Originally produced as a one-act play in 1982, David Mamet’s Edmond sends a businessman on a blood-soaked odyssey of sex, violence, and punishment. Written between The Verdict and Glengarry Glen Ross, two considerably stronger pieces, Edmond places Mamet’s familiar themes within a free-flowing narrative that today feels as dated as it is misanthropic. Directed with care (and perhaps a bit too much reverence) by Stuart Gordon, and acted by an exceptionally engaged cast, this adaptation is all the playwright could ask for. That also makes it one of the toughest films of the year to sell to an audience.

The film is first and foremost a vehicle for William H. Macy, who is fully committed to the title character’s downward arc. As Edmond, he plays a stressed but apparently normal businessman who visits a fortune teller when a meeting is rescheduled. Told that he is not where he belongs, Edmond decides to walk out on his wife. He meets a man in a bar (Joe Mantegna) who rails against blacks while delivering a philosophy of life that focuses on sex, power, self-destruction, and religion.

Edmond is thrown out of a “gentlemen’s” club after arguing with a B-girl (Denise Richards) over her fee for oral sex. A peep show where a dancer (Bai Ling) demands more than Edmond is willing to pay proves equally frustrating. At a bordello disguised as a health club, Edmond pays one fee to the matron (Debi Mazar), but balks at the money a prostitute (Mena Suvari) demands.

Mugged after losing a game of three-card monte, Edmond pawns his ring and buys a knife. When a pimp (Lionel Mark Smith) tries to rob him later, Edmond beats him viciously. Adrenalized by the violence, Edmond persuades a waitress named Glenna (Julia Stiles) to let him have sex with her. Unable to persuade her to join him in renouncing the past, he finds another use for the knife. Before long Edmond will be confronting his worst fear: forced sex with a black prison inmate.

Edmond‘s philosophical digressions, spasms of violence, and racist diatribes might work better on stage, where shifting sets and characters who enter and exit from the wings help emphasize the theatricality of the piece. Ironically, Gordon’s realist approach strips the play of its nightmarish qualities, leaving behind a strident, pervasive ugliness, along with glaring plot holes. It might have made more sense to play up the humor in the piece, because Mamet’s relentless attempts to provoke viewers seem pretty childish today.

Cast and credits

Cast: William H. Macy, Jeffrey Combs, Dule’ Hill, Russell Hornsby, Bai Ling, Joe Mantegna, Debi Mazar, Rebecca Pidgeon, Denise Richards, Lionel Mark Smith, Mena Suvari, Marcus Thomas, Jack Wallace, Dylan Walsh, George Wendt, Bokeem Woodbine, Julia Stiles, Frances Bay, Patricia Belcher, Wren T. Brown, Barry Cullison, Vincent Guastaferro, Aldis Hodge, Matt Landers, Michael Saad, Wendy Thompson, Bruce A. Young.

Credits: Directed by Stuart Gordon. Screenplay by David Mamet, based on his play. Produced by Chris Hanley, Molly Hassell, Duffy Hecht, Roger Kass, Mary McCann, Kevin Ragsdale, Stuart Gordon. Executive producers: Al Corley, Bart Rosenblatt, Eugene Musso, Tricia Van Klaveren, Gary Rubin, Steven Hays, Felix Werner, Kathrin Werner, Hamish McAlpine, Samuel Englebardt, Ryan R. Johnson. Director of photography: Denis Maloney. Edited by Andy Horvitch. Original score by Bobby Johnston. Production designer: Alan E. Muraoka. Costume designer: Carol Cutshall. Co-producers: Lionel Mark Smith, Chad Troutwine. A First Independent Pictures presentation of a Muse Production, in association with Tartan Films, Code Entertainment, Werner Film, 120dB Films, Pretty Dangerous Films, Dog Pond Productions, The Hecht Company, Red Hen Productions, and Fully Loaded Pictures.

First Independent Pictures/Color/1.85/Dolby Digital/82 Mins./Rated R


Review: The Night Listener

July 18, 2006

Adapted from a novel by Armistead Maupin, The Night Listener is a somber, slowly paced account of a radio host’s response to a provocative manuscript. Told in a convoluted style featuring layered flashbacks, shifting points of view, and some of the darkest cinematography of the year, the film presents viewers with many more questions than it tries to answer. Chief among them is why director Patrick Stettner insisted on shooting a clever but inconclusive character study as if it were a horror film.

New York City radio host Gabriel Noone (played by Robin Williams in full “serious” mode) is a lonely, middle-aged author famous for detailing his lover’s battle with AIDS on public radio monologues. Jess (Bobby Cannavale) has just moved out after eight years, leaving Gabriel feeling especially vulnerable. Publishing editor Ashe (Joe Morton) gives him a manuscript, supposedly the autobiography of Pete Logand (Rory Culkin), a fourteen-year-old who contracted AIDS after being sexually abused by his parents. Adopted by social worker Donna Logand (Toni Collette), Pete–an assumed name–now lives in a small town in Wisconsin.

When Pete calls Gabriel to talk about the book, the two become friends. Jess is more skeptical about the boy, pointing out that Pete’s voice sounds like Donna’s. To prove Jess wrong, and to quell his own doubts, Gabriel flies out to Wisconsin to meet the Logands. What he finds there–an unpredictable mix of hospitality and hostility–leaves him shaken.

Stettner sketches in the film’s New York scenes with small but accurate touches that help round out Williams’s muted performance. The comedian, a genuinely accomplished performer, is so careful to tamp down every aspect of Gabriel’s personality that there is very little left to care about. Wearing milky blue contacts, Collette is more interested in toying with her role as a blind social worker than performing with Williams. She does sightlessness expertly, but the whole effort feels like a stunt.

Maupin’s adaptation, written with his ex-lover Terry Anderson and Stettner, tends to reduce his novel’s complex situations to obvious ones. “This is not one of your stories,” Jess tells Gabriel, and if that’s not blunt enough, the message is repeated several other times, even by Gabriel himself. But if The Night Listener isn’t a story, then what is it? Stettner tries to avoid the script’s problems by pumping up its suspense elements. An ordinary trip up the stairs suddenly becomes a scene out of The Grudge. Peter Nashel’s otherwise effectively melancholy score goes all jangly and discordant, the screen becomes too murky to read, and pointless shocks arrive with annoying regularity. A somber story line, empty scares, and a deceptive ending are not likely to spell box-office success.

Cast and credits

Cast: Robin Williams, Toni Collette, Bobby Cannavale, Joe Morton, John Cullum, Rory Culkin, Sandra Oh, Becky Ann Baker, Lisa Emery, Mary Ann Plunkett.

Credits: Patrick Stettner. Screenplay by Armistead Maupin & Terry Anderson and Patrick Stettner. Produced by Robert Kessel, Jeff Sharp, John Hart, Jill Footlick. Executive producers: Michael Hogan, Armistead Maupin, Terry Anderson, Jonathan Sehring, Caroline Kaplan. Director of photography: Lisa Rinzler. Edited by Andy Keir. Production designer: Michael Shaw. Costume designer: Marina Draghici. Composer: Peter Nashel. Music supervisor: Linda Cohen. Co-producers: Michael J. Werner, Wouter Barendrecht. Associate producers: Brett Williams, Nina Wolarsky. A Miramax Films presentation of a Hart Sharp Entertainment and IFC Films production, in association with Fortissimo Films.

Miramax/Color/1.85/Dolby Digital/81 Mins./Rated R


Review: Shadowboxer

July 17, 2006

Yet another morbid cautionary tale about a hit man with a heart of gold, Shadowboxer marks the directing debut of Lee Daniels, an adventurous producer whose prior projects included Monster’s Ball and The Woodsman. Despite assembling a talented cast and crew, Daniels is stymied here by a script that takes itself far too seriously.

The story opens in the past, as a young boy fondles a pistol while his hit-man father abuses his mother in another room. Fast-forward to grown-up professional assassin Mikey Malone (Cuba Gooding, Jr.) as he comforts his terminally ill partner and lover Rose (Helen Mirren). They agree to one more job to finance a vacation before cancer claims her.

Club owner and gangster Clayton (Stephen Dorff) suspects his wife Vickie (Vanessa Ferlito) of infidelity. After killing her alleged lover with a broken cue stick, Clayton takes a contract out on Vickie. Mikey and Rose accept the job from their facilitator Andrew (Tom Pasch). They wordlessly eliminate a half-dozen bodyguards in and around Clayton’s mansion. But Rose won’t kill Vickie because she’s pregnant–so pregnant in fact that she gives birth to a boy right then and there.

Announcing that “We’re keeping them,” Rose hides the mother and son, first in her downtown apartment, then in a suburban home. They use Don (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a mob doctor, to help cover their tracks. Before she dies, Rose makes Mikey promise to take care of Vickie and her son Anthony. Mikey keeps up the ruse for seven years, gradually bonding with the boy and then his mother.

Mikey begins to have second thoughts about his career when, dressed in drag, he kills the father of a seven-year-old. But Clayton finds out about the scheme from Precious (Mo’Nique), Don’s spurned lover, forcing a confrontation that will result in several more fatalities.

Gooding’s post-Jerry Maguire career has seen the Oscar-winning actor flounder in a series of ill-conceived roles. Here playing someone cut off from his feelings, Gooding mistakes restraint for depth, reining in his natural ebullience with dour results. To be fair, it’s a role that would baffle any performer. Mirren, a stellar actress who has kept largely to television in recent years, bulls her way through the often unintentionally funny script, building a credible character out of sheer determination. The other actors, a fearless Stephen Dorff in particular, are badly in need of stronger direction. One exception is Macy Gray, who plays Vickie’s doomed best friend. Her performance, full of slurs and stumbles, shows a wit and playfulness largely missing from the film.

Daniels can be faulted for Shadowboxer‘s turgid pacing, for relying too heavily on close-ups, and for the film’s weird preoccupation with both Gooding’s naked rear end and Ferlito’s faked orgasms. But the biggest problem with the film is its preposterously over-the-top script. One alfresco sex scene features a prolonged flashback before climaxing in two murders. It’s enough to make you swear off pulp forever.

Cast and credits

Cast: Cuba Gooding, Jr., Helen Mirren, Vanessa Ferlito, Macy Gray, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Mo’Nique, Stephen Dorff, Matt Higgins, Tom Pasch.

Credits: Directed by Lee Daniels. Written by William Lipz. Produced by Lee Daniels, Lisa Cort├ęs, David Robinson, Brook Lenfest, Damon Dash. Executive producers: Dawn Lenfest, Tucker Tooley. Co-executive producers: Sharon Pinkenson, Marvet Britto, Kareem “Biggs” Burke. Creative consultant: Andrew Sforzini. Director of photography: M. David Mullen. Edited by William Chang Suk Ping, Brian A. Kates. Production designer: Steven Saklad. Music by Mario Grigorov. Music supervisor: A.J. Assarto. Associate producers: Chase Lenfest, Doreen S. Oliver-Akinnuoye, Thomas Fatone. Co-producers: Valerie Hoffman, Simone Sheffield. A Teton Films presentation of a Lee Daniels Entertainment production.