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Tuesday September 30, 2014
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A Stone Carver

 

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Bang Bang You're Dead explores Columbine-style teen violence. Next to those plays, Stone Carver is a gentle pastorale, but still it starts with a gun. An old man prepares to defend himself against bulldozers come to raze his home, and, when that confrontation is defused, he puts on boxing gloves and goes a few rounds with his son.

I like the lusty, hair-trigger tempers of Mastrosimone's characters, and I like how he gives actors something to work with other than conversation. The guy with the gun is a raging bull of an Italian patriarch named Agostino, a seventh-generation specialist in the ancient Italian trade of sculpting stone angels for churches. His property is being demolished to make a freeway on-ramp, and he's set to go down with the ship, when his estranged son, Raff (Matthew David), arrives with his fiancee, Janice (Charlyn Swarthout), to talk him out of it.

A generation's worth of family values and conflicts get aired. We learn Raff broke his father's heart by not taking up the family trade. We learn Agostino built his house by hand, makes his own wine, and commemorates his dead wife by carving her face into all his angels. But before we get all soppy about old world virtues, I should mention that when Agostino meets Janice, he dismissively slaps her on the rump, shows her the kitchen, and tells her to get cooking.

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