Baltimore filmmaker Francis Xavier's Johnny Come Lately, the story of a criminal profiler lured out of retirement to help catch a serial killer targeting children, will have its world premiere at the Senator Thursday night.
"I wanted to stay away from the teen-age-type thing," says Xavier, 42, insisting he's had enough of films in which teens are the victims. "I just thought that would be more terrifying, to deal with a serial killer of little kids, and I'm talking about kids 8, 9 years old."
Xavier plays the central character, Paul Washington, who's recruited by the FBI to help track the killer. The cast includes several actors from Xavier's previous film, Barry's Gift, including Vincent De Paul, Johnny Alonso and Lance Irwin (who appeared in two episodes of HBO's The Wire).
Xavier said more than 400 actors auditioned for Johnny Come Lately, including several from New York and Los Angeles. Among the familiar faces onscreen will be that of Kim Webb, who appeared in two John Waters' films, Hairspray (1988) and Cry-Baby (1990).
This is the second film directed by Xavier. Barry's Gift, about a man with the power to revive the dead - and the revenge that the dead, who don't want to be revived, exact on him - was shown at the 2000 Maryland Film Festival.
A former pressroom supervisor at The Sun, Xavier says he "just left the job one night, I just left to go pursue my goals and my career. I've just been kicking it ever since."
Tickets for Thursday's premiere, which begins with a 7 p.m. reception, will be available at the door for $20 and include admission to a post-premiere party at Gardel's, 29 S. Front St.
And while we're on the subject of local boys making good ...
Sinsitivity, the debut feature from writer-director-producer Kim Moir, hits video stores and various Internet outlets this week. The movie, shot in the Baltimore and Columbia area between May 1999 and October 2003, is the story of a minister's son who falls in love with an exotic dancer. It stars local actors Paige Carter, Ryan Sands and Archie Williams.
While Sinsitivity is Moir's first effort as a writer-director, it's not his first foray into filmed entertainment. In 1997, his play Killing Memory won WMAR-Channel 2's drama competition in honor of Black History Month, and a production of it staged by the Arena Players was shown on television.
'Exorcist' then and now
Exorcist: The Beginning, the long-awaited prequel to 1973's The Exorcist, hits theaters this weekend without any advance screenings (which is why there's no review in today's Sun). But those anxious to see the horrifying original film - and I mean horrifying in the best, most flattering sense - should make the trek to Silver Spring, where the AFI Silver Theatre is presenting late-night screenings of William Friedkin's masterpiece this weekend and next.
Unfortunately, this is the re-thought director's cut, with added scenes that only detract from the mastery of the original (although I have to admit the scene where Linda Blair makes like an upside-down spider crawling down the stairs is pretty cool). Still, this is a rare chance to see the film on the big screen.
Showtimes are 11:35 p.m. tonight, tomorrow and next Friday and Saturday. The AFI Silver is at 8633 Colesville Road in Silver Spring. Call 301-495-6700 or visit www.silver.afi.com.
Sun film critic Michael Sragow remains on sabbatical.