Commenting on Penny Marshall's film Awakenings, noted film critic David Thomson said, "Awakenings was Hollywood's idea of a prestige production: there is nothing so respectable as the pathos of the handicapped, or as slick as the way clever tour-de-force acting gets away with being called truthful realism." Now Penny's brother Garry, long-time director and the Hollywood auteur behind Pretty Woman, has entered the fray. His latest film, The Other Sister, stars Juliette Lewis and Giovanni Ribisi as mentally challenged young adults who fall in love. Cinematographer and co-Executive Director of Northwest Film Forum Jamie Hook discusses the film with the self-professed film genius Matt Strobel. Note: Slang terms for the mentally challenged are used throughout this piece as commentary on Marshall's objectification of the mentally challenged in the film. --Film Editor

Jamie Hook: So, this was a misstep for Marshall.

Matt Strobel: Yes, though we would be wise to remember Andrew Sarris' postulation that even a bad film by an auteur such as Hitchcock, Ford, or in this case Marshall is a greater film than the best work of a hack like John Huston or Ingmar Bergman.

JH: Juliette Lewis seems to be taking the popular route to career revival by playing a 'tard in this film.

MS: Yes. I'm impressed that she seems to have broken the "glass ceiling" in the subgenre of 'tard films.

JH: I hadn't thought of that.

MS: We can only hope to see other great actresses like Kim Basinger and Meryl Streep follow her lead.

JH: It would be refreshing to see Streep take on a great 'tard role like Helen Keller. But, to get back to the film, Lewis plays a 'tard who meets a fellow 'tard, played by Giovanni Ribisi, and falls in love.

MS: Ribisi really does something with his role here. The scenes of him clapping and smiling are so... effortlessly portrayed.

JH: Yes, you really think he is retarded. Anyhow, she comes from a not-so-wonderful family.

MS: Indeed. Now, here, I thought Marshall was really strong. I mean, the manipulation was very well conceived. He draws these horrific characters around the 'tards, which has the effect of making the 'tards seem sweet and innocent.

JH: Yes, very effective, very manipulative.

MS: And from then on, it's okay to laugh at the 'tards, because Marshall has created--some would go so far as to say engineered--our complicity. Go ahead, laugh it up! We know you really respect the 'tards.

JH: Very manipulative. It really reminded me of Polanski, or--dare I say it?--Hitchcock. Again, near the end, he constructs a doozy of a scene, doesn't he? I mean, the picture is almost over, and it seems like everything has gone to hell.

MS: Oh, yes. I was looking at my watch, wondering, "How is he ever going to resolve this?" when wham! An in-your-face happy ending!

JH: The only other director I know of who can turn a film on a dime like that is...

MS: [Interrupting] Fellini?

JH: You read my mind.

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