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The Steuben Courier Advocate
  • Hollywood movie directed by East High grad opens today

  • A Hollywood movie written and directed by East High graduate Geoff Moore will open in theaters across the U.S. this weekend. Called “Better Living Through Chemistry,” the dark comedy stars Sam Rockwell, Olivia Wilde, Michelle Monaghan and Ray Liotta, and is narrated by Jane Fonda.
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  • A Hollywood movie written and directed by East High graduate Geoff Moore will open in theaters across the U.S. this weekend.
    Called “Better Living Through Chemistry,” the dark comedy stars Sam Rockwell, Olivia Wilde, Michelle Monaghan and Ray Liotta, and is narrated by Jane Fonda.
    “A small town pharmacist’s uneventful life turns into a walk on the wild side when he embarks on a drug- and alcohol-fueled affair with a seductive customer in this murderously funny dark comedy,” says the teaser from Samuel Goldwyn Films.
    Moore co-wrote and co-directed “Better Living Through Chemistry” with David Posamentier, and it marked their directorial debut.
    Moore, 38, graduated from East High in 1994 and attended Baylor University. He has lived in Los Angeles since 2000, starting off working at a film studio.
    After a few years of reviewing scripts and working with screenwriters, he decided to try his hand at writing, quit his job and began working with Posamentier. “Better Living” is their breakthrough, Moore said.
    They finished the script for “Better Living” in late 2009, then began casting, which was a fun part of the process, Moore said.
    “This movie had two really strong roles for women that ultimately went to Olivia (Wilde) and Michelle Monaghan. There’s just such a dearth of strong roles for women in movies today, the response was just incredible.
    “I sort of joke that I had to stop telling my wife who I was meeting, because it was just like, ‘Oh, we had lunch with Jessica Biel today, or we had coffee with Diane Kruger’ -- all these lovely women and talented actresses.”
    The lead roles of the small-town pharmacist and the gorgeous temptress with whom he has a crazy, drug-fueled affair wound up going to Rockwell and Wilde. Monaghan plays Rockwell’s uptight wife, and Liotta plays Wilde’s husband.
    The veteran actors were great to work with, Moore said, even for rookie directors filming an independent movie on a low budget and a tight schedule.
    The film was shot in the summer of 2012 in Annapolis, Md.
    “Everybody was away from home, nobody was getting paid anything,” he said. “Actors of this stature, they’re used to showing up at a movie set and having a trailer and food and all these things, and we didn’t have any of that.”
    As for working with the stunning Wilde?
    “She really pulled off her role in a way that’s going to surprise people that think of her in a very specific way,” Moore said. “This expands her range a little bit.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Liotta plays a more restrained role than some of his wild-eyed, gun-toting characters in past movies, Moore said. Fonda narrates the story, chipping in with her own crude observations.
    The long road from script to release was “an exercise in patience” that finally ends this weekend, Moore said.
    “When you’ve spent 4.5 years of your life on something, no matter what it is, it’s a great feeling,” he said.
    “Better Living” is a limited release by Samuel Goldwyn Films, showing in 75 cities across the country this weekend. The closest is Cinemapolis in Ithaca. It could be expanded into more theaters depending on how it fares at the box office.
    Universal Studios is also releasing the film Friday for iTunes, cable on-demand and other home entertainment offerings.
    While there was once a negative connotation attached to “straight to video” movies, that has changed, Moore says.
    “There’s a lot of people who want to pay $6 instead of $12 and watch it from the comfort of home on their big-screen TV whenever they want,” he said. “That’s an interesting part of the business, all the different platforms by which movies go out.”
    As for his memories of East High, Moore credited former East High theater director Judy Cross with “developing whatever sense of dramatic flair I may have,” and his English teachers Marianna Baker and Carol Case for encouraging him to write.
    “East High in general was a very supportive environment, even as I’m exceedingly jealous of the current and future students who’ll get to take advantage of that awesome new theater,” he said.

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