A few weeks ago a DVD of Laurent Cantet's 2000 film Human Resources arrived on my doorstep. I hadn't seen it, but it rung a bell for me, and it took me a little while to remember: the Shooting Gallery series! I couldn't believe I had forgotten about it. It was a huge event in less-than-400-screen lore, successful as well as artistically daring. I poked around and discovered that this brave little distributor had -- of course -- gone out of business. In 2000 and 2001, the Shooting Gallery lined up three series of six movies each, releasing each one for a two-week period, usually on a specific movie screen in selected cities, and then replaced it with the next in the series. If something took off and became a hit, it could play longer. I didn't see all the films, but there were some amazing entries, and certainly some films that otherwise would never have seen the light of day.

The first series unfolded in the spring of 2000. The quirky, dreamy, black-and-white comedy Judy Berlin, starring a then up-and-coming Edie Falco ("The Sopranos"), came first. It didn't exactly break any box office records, but I wouldn't be surprised if it has a small following today. Next up came Peter Mullan's Orphans, which I didn't see, followed by Such a Long Journey, which was yet another story from India about an old-fashioned father balking at the ways of his modern children, but beautifully realized. (The great character actor Om Puri was on hand for a supporting role.) Southpaw was a snappy little boxing documentary about promising Irish fighter Francis Barrett. The sixth film, from Japan, was Adrenaline Drive, a kind of crime story crossed with a drawing room comedy. It seemed ripe for an American remake, which never came.

categories Columns, Cinematical