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Missing Beauty 

Wednesday, Feb 3 2010
Her deglamorized, no-bullshit portrayal of a middle-aged single mother in grim financial straits earned Melissa Leo a Best Actress nomination for Frozen River (2008). The Oscar nod was also an acknowledgment of two decades of gutsy, gimmick-free character roles in movies such as The Ballad of Little Jo and 21 Grams. A woman for whom acting — not stardom — is the Holy Grail, Leo took a central role in Stephanie's Image, San Francisco producer-director Janis DeLucia Allen's close-to-the-bone independent feature, as an ex-model whose mysterious murder propels a documentary filmmaker's search for the truth. JP Allen's sneaky-smart screenplay takes a thriller-slash-whodunit setup and spins a crafty yarn that plays with audience perceptions and expectations. A rare treat for awake-at-the-wheel moviegoers with a taste for puzzles, language, and high-level mindfucking, Stephanie's Image also showcases a wealth of breathtakingly fearless acting. As a further bonus, John Dilley's short film “How to Be Popular” and Robert Machoian and Rodrigo Ojeda-Beck's “Ella and the Astronaut” screen before the main attraction, and Stephanie's Image filmmakers attend tonight’s screening.
Feb. 15-21, 7:30 p.m., 2010

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Michael Fox


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