'Radio Cape Cod': Slow Down And Enjoy The Scenery

June 21, 2008

   Photo above taken by Terry Stanley- The Enterprise
"Radio Cape Cod" is director Andrew Silver's loving tribute to love, in its many expressions and stages, to the scenic beauty and natural ecology of Cape Cod, and to a slower-paced, slow food, slow motion way of life, as a respite from the frantic, fast-paced, fast food, MTV way of life and movies that most of us are familiar with. It is, in his words, "a summer love story without the baggage."
    The movie, shot in and around Woods Hole and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (and, briefly, at Tony Andrews Farm in East Falmouth) last summer, gives us a five-day glimpse into the love lives of four couples whose lives are intertwined. Jake (Justin Adams) and Monica (Ana Kaczmarek) will get married at the end of the week; Jake's boss Alice (Debra Wise) has rekindled her relationship with her ex-husband Clay (played by Mr. Silver); their colleague Sunday has fallen for the local WCAI talk show host, Jill (Tamzin Outhwaite, who won Best Actress for this film in the Pier International Film Festival, Sussex, England), whose high-school-age daughter Ana (Tamzin Merchant) is warming up to Virgil (Julian Silver), a shy friend in the summer improvisational theater class she is taking.
    It would seem there is a lot going on, but the movie moves slowly, at its own pace. The film begins with Clay extolling the virtues of slow food (yes, this is an actual movement concerned with sustainable agriculture, fresh, locally produced organic food, taking time to prepare food, and taking time to eat and enjoy it slowly, with family and friends, a movement Mr. Silver believes in). Slow-motion scenes of breaking waves, sunlit sea grasses blowing in the wind, graceful shorebirds soaring and dunking under the waves, and luminous sunrises and sunsets are interspersed throughout, accompanied by mellow, cool jazz and bossa nova rhythms by young musicians from Boston and Woods Hole.
    One learns little about the characters, and there is minimal plot conflict. Mr. Silver addressed this in a recent interview. "Some movies are action-packed," he said, "and some movies are poetry." 'Radio Cape Cod' falls into the second category; it is a mood, a feeling to enjoy, keeping distracting elements to a minimum, "rather like not overcooking vegetables." It is enough to observe the ecology of relationships in the idyllic village of Woods Hole, whose residents respect the environment, hug trees, are in tune with microbes, and get in touch with their feelings through improvisational drama.
    The cinematography is gorgeous and won this film the Best Cinematography award at the 2008 All American Film Festival, Durham, North Carolina, as well as several other awards.
    The film was shot in natural light, which not only imparts a gentle, realistic look to the film, but also required the production company to slow down to shoot it. Because the light was right only for a few hours in the morning and again in the afternoon, the shooting schedule was much less demanding than for a typical film, in which shooting might start early and continue late into the evening. The schedule gave the actors and crew a chance to take things relatively slow themselves, and enjoy the experience.
    Julian Silver, Mr. Silver's 19-year-old son, played Virgil in the movie, Ana's love interest. He is, in Julian's words, "an awkward 16-year-old" who lets himself get pushed around a little because he does not quite understand love or feel ready for it. Ana's mother, Jill, offers a marine biology explanation of his behavior to her daughter: "Teenage boys are like mollusks. They're hard on the outside; they are extremely difficult to pry into; and they only open up when they want to."
    In real-life, Julian is not a mollusk at all. He is a charming young man who knows that he loves acting and the movie business. He said that acting in this film was one of the best experiences of his life. He appreciated the pace of the production because it gave him time to get to know the other actors; the cast lived together in the same house, acted together, and hung out together at night, and Olatunde (OT) Fagbenle, who plays Sunday, was like a "second brother" to him.
    The soundtrack includes excerpts of two songs by local singer/songwriter Isel Garcia-Renart who plays in the band Cranky Tupp with Mike Carney and others. She was playing at the Phusion Grille in Woods Hole when she was discovered by Mr. Silver, who came there frequently to eat during the shooting of the film. He was struck by her original voice and felt the melodies she was singing, her own compositions, would be perfect for the movie. He uses one, "Freedom," ("What good is love?") to highlight the conflict between love and, well, not being tied down by love. Ms. Garcia-Renart has a lovely voice, and it was nice to "discover" her myself through this movie, even though she has been playing locally for several years. You can catch her on Sundays from 11 AM to 3 PM at the Phusion Grille, 71 Water Street, Woods Hole, and at other locations in and around Falmouth.
    You can also see her at Coffee Obsession in Woods Hole tonight, following the screening of "Radio Cape Cod," and at the Woods Hole Music Festival tomorrow night at 8 PM at the Woods Hole Community Hall. Cranky Tupp will be performing along with the Old Silver Band, and Niko Tripoli and his One-Drop Sound System.
    This is Mr. Silver's fourth film. He studied earth sciences, including oceanography, at MIT and taught theater arts at Brandeis before earning a doctorate in business administration from Harvard Business School. His goals are to nurturing performance and creativity in his films and with his films.
    "Radio Cape Cod" will not be released into movie theaters. Instead, it can be seen in small intimate venues, such as tonight's showing in Woods Hole. It is Mr. Silver's hope that the movie can be used to help raise funds for worthy organizations, particularly those involved in science, nature, and environmental education. More information on the film may be found at www.radiocapecod.com. Those interested in screening the film may contact Mr. Silver at 508-393-6300.
    And, yes, there will be a sequel.

by Marilyn J. Rowland, Falmouth Enterprise