Barney’s Version

Barney’s Version

Filmaker brings Barney’s Version to the silver screen

Winter is far from over, but organizers at the Kitchen Stove Film Series are already raring to go with their spring season. And they are kicking it off with a blockbuster. Barney’s Version, from Mordecai Richler’s novel of the same name, was just released in December 2010, but it has already earned star Paul Giamatti a Golden Globe for best actor and is leading the pack at the Genies with 11 nominations.

Winter is far from over, but organizers at the Kitchen Stove Film Series are already raring to go with their spring season.

And they are kicking it off with a blockbuster. Barney’s Version, from Mordecai Richler’s novel of the same name, was just released in December 2010, but it has already earned star Paul Giamatti a Golden Globe for best actor and is leading the pack at the Genies with 11 nominations.

But from everything she has seen and heard about the film, which was in development for 12 years, film series organizer Rosemarie Fulbrook said it seemed to be a tough book to adapt to film.

“Much of it is an interior, rumbling dialogue,” said Fulbrook, who is rereading the novel in preparation for seeing the film version of Feb. 17. There will be two showings at the Pen-Mar Cinema at 4 and 7 p.m.

“We’re trusting this is going to well,” she said. “We’re just going to have to wait and see.”

While it isn’t specifically part of their mandate to promote Canadian films, Fulbrook said the Kitchen Stove Film Series does look for Canadian films as they review candidates for watch season.

“Mordecai Richler is a well-loved icon of Canadian Literature. It (Barney’s Version) has a strong Canadian feel so we went with it,” said Fulbrook.

Barney’s Version, published in 1997, was the last novel Richler completed before his death in 2001. It’s written in the form of an autobiography, not of Richler, but his fictional character Barney Panofsky (Paul Giamatti) — a hockey loving, cigar smoking television producer. In it, Barney recounts his life, culminating in a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease, explaining the memory lapses and footnote corrections by his son Michael earlier in the book.

Barney is a seemingly ordinary man who lives an extraordinary life, and the story is a candid confessional spanning four decades and two continents and includes three wives (Rosamund Pike, Minnie Driver, and Rachelle Lefevre), one outrageous father (Dustin Hoffman), and a charmingly dissolute best friend (Scott Speedman).

With three marriages under his belt, Barney’s past is riddled with mistakes and regrets. When a former police detective threatens an accusatory novel dealing with the events leading to his best friend’s death, Barney decides to enlighten the world with his own version of the story. Irreverent and sophisticated, poignant and very funny, this visual extravaganza is Barney’s toast to friendship, love and life.

While portions of the novel are set in Paris, director Richard J. Lewis, shifted the location to Rome for the movie. Filming took place in Montreal, the Laurentian Mountains, Rome and New York.

The film series continues on March 10 with another Canadian film, Incendies.

It’s not often we do two Canadian films in a season,” said Fulbrook of the French language film from Quebecois director Denis Villeneuve. It’s also being highly praised by critics, following close on the heels of Barney’s Version at the Genies, with 10 nominations.

Tickets are $12 each and series tickets for all four films in the spring season are $33 for Penticton Art Gallery members and students, $38 for non-members. Tickets are available in advance at the gallery and at The Book Shop on Main Street, with limited single tickets available at the door.

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