If you have cable/dish and have access to the Sundance film channel, then tonight before you go to bed, set your video recorder!
In 1998 Joel Hopkins, when he was a youthful 28 years old, wrote and directed his first commercial film. It was a quirky, captivating little 30-minute short (creatively conceived and imaginatively shot) called Jorge, in which he introduced us to the painfully shy but thoroughly engaging character of the same name, in his quest for the lovely Alicia. Alicia is a temp in the travel agency where Jorge works, and just as quickly as she entered his life, the ending of her job threatens to take her away forever. Newcomer Tunde Adebimpe gave a sweet, understated, appropriately angular, and nearly perfect reading, through which he and director Hopkins created a character that made us shout “More!”
Well, guess what? Thanks in part to the $100,000 Hopkins received for winning NYU’s Wasserman Award forJorge, three years later he re-wrote and expanded the premise and concept of the Jorge saga, brought Adebimpe back to brilliantly reprise the role, and gave us the 97-minute Jump Tomorrow. Jorge once again meets and pursues Alicia, but this time the demure Alicia — as played by Loreni Delgado in Jorge — is replaced by the independent and (we later learn) fiery Alicia of actress Natalia Verbeke. Jorge pursues Alicia, not just in the office and elevator and public transport as he did in the first film, but all the way to the Canadian border. The Cupid of the piece, who pulls Jorge out of his introversion (even though love has kicked his own metaphorical shins) is played by famed French actor Hippolyte Girardot (La Moustache, Paris je t’aime).
Mostly the critics never wrote up (if they even saw)Jorge, but those critics willing to be taken to new and engaging cinematic experiences in pursuit of a left-handed comedic feel good romance had almost universally positive things to say about Jump Tomorrow. See Joe Morgenstern’s review below. The New York Times looked down its dour patrician nose at what it called Jump Tomorrow‘s “raggedy low-budget” look, though even they were forced to applaud its “sweetness.”
Joe Morgenstern ended his 2001 review of Jump Tomorrow by saying it made him eager to know what Joel Hopkins would do next. Well, it would take 7 years, but he found out when Hopkins wrote and directed the big-budget Dustin Hoffman/Emma Thompson vehicle Last Chance Harvey. The critics weren’t always terribly kind aboutHarvey (Roger Ebert: “a tremendously appealing love story surrounded by a movie not worthy of it”; Morgenstern: “A good chance to see two superb actors having their way with wafer-thin material”), but I’m still on the edge of my cinematic seat, wondering if we’ll ever see Jorge again!
Here’s the showing info for Jump Tomorrow: Sundance Channel; 8:30 am or 4:00 pm, Tuesday, 5 January 2010. (If you don’t live in Eastern or Pacific time zones, check your listings.)
And if you’re intrigued to see the original Jorge, scroll to the bottom of this post. You can watch it in two 15-minute segments. Enjoy!
Now, GO SET YOUR DVR!
METACRITIC RATING: 68
Starring: Tunde Adebimpe, Hippolyte Girardot, Natalia Verbeke
Directed by: Joel Hopkins
Running Time: 97 minutes
Rated: PG for thematic material, mild sensuality and language
George, a shy and introverted young man from Nigeria, is following tradition leading to an arranged marriage. He meets and falls in love with a beautiful girl, who is also about to be married, and begins to question his future.
Wall Street Journal Joe Morgenstern (rating: 40):
The silliness of Jump Tomorrow takes your breath away, and I mean that as high praise. So does the sweetness. And the drollery, and audacity. A delightful debut feature by Joel Hopkins, it’s a deadpan comedy about the triumph of true love over shyness; he who hesitates is found. The movie’s minimalist look reflects the emotional minimalism of its covertly romantic hero, George, who is played by Tunde Adebimpe. George is black, a Nigerian living in the U.S., but his blackness is a red herring; his most salient characteristic is a goofy melancholy that keeps him buttoned up inside his business suit, arms dangling as he walks, face impassive behind horn-rimmed specs. “I don’t think my face makes much sense without my glasses,” George says forlornly.
Maybe not, but what he does after missing his fiancee’s airport arrival makes perfect sense. George meets and promptly falls in love with an irresistible young woman named Alicia — she’s played with spirit and grace by a Spanish actress named Natalia Verbecke. Then Jump Tomorrow becomes a picaresque road movie as George, accompanied by a romantic fool of a Frenchman named Gerard (Hippolyte Girardot), follows Alicia, and her own fiance, all the way to the Canadian border. Don’t expect a perfectly wrought film when you see Jump Tomorrow, but do see it by all means, both for itself and for what it foretells — great things — of Mr. Hopkins’s future. I can’t wait to see what he does next.
Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert (rating: 75):
The plot unfolds with the gradual richness of something by Eric Rohmer, who has the whole canvas in view from the beginning but uncovers it a square inch at a time. By the end of Jump Tomorrow I was awfully fond of the picture.
Chicago Reader Lisa Alspector:
Transcendently kitschy, trippingly funny fairy tale, which has a surprising amount of psychological insight and a dance number to die for.
Jorge Part 1
Jorge Part 2