Go to New York State Writers Institute
October 22, 2004
(Friday)
4:15 p.m. Informal Seminar
Recital Hall, PAC
7:00 p.m. Film Screening
Page Hall, 135 Western Ave
The Shape of Things
Followed by Film Commentary
with Director Neil LaBute

Kevin's Film Notes
Playwright, Screenwriter
& Film Director

Neil LaBute
Neil LaBute


Neil LaBute, playwright, screenwriter, and film director, is one of America's most talked-about and controversial dramatists. The bland surfaces of his dramas often conceal worlds of astonishing cruelty, in which men and women enjoy manipulating and doing harm to one another. Though some critics and viewers have been taken aback by the viciousness of LaBute's characters, the author believes, as he has said in a recent "London Telegraph" interview, that "Great good can come from showing great evil."

"There is no playwright on the planet these days who is writing better than Neil LaBute." - critic John Lahr for the "New Yorker"

LaBute's newest film, "The Shape of Things" (United States/France/United Kingdom, 2003, 96 minutes, color, 35mm), is based on his 2001 play of the same name. In "The Shape of Things," a pleasant, dorky museum guard named Adam (Paul Rudd) becomes involved with an ambitious art student named Evelyn (Rachel Weisz). Over time, Adam's friends begin to notice changes in his appearance: his hairstyle, weight, clothes, and more. As it unfolds, LaBute's faithful adaptation of his stage play becomes a terrifying parable about modern love and art.

"LaBute has a knack for challenging our concepts of love and relationships, and for mixing entertainment with strong messages. This powerful look at society's obsession with looks--with 'the shape of things'--will leave you with plenty of food for thought." - CNN reviewer Paul Clinton

In October 2004, LaBute will publish his first book of short stories, "Seconds of Pleasure." Like LaBute's dramas, these 20 tales offer disturbing insight into the strange and cruel impulses of the human heart. The "Booklist" review praised the collection saying, "LaBute's smart, edgy offering delivers pleasures well beyond the time frame his title suggests."

In 1997, LaBute captured national attention with the release of the independent film, "In the Company of Men," based on his 1992 stage play. The play and film focus on two white-collar workers who set out to humiliate a female colleague as an indirect form of revenge against women in general.

"'In the Company of Men' is the kind of bold, uncompromising film that insists on being thought about afterward-talked about, argued about, hated if necessary, but not ignored." - Roger Ebert, for the "Chicago Tribune" (four-star review)

The film earned the Filmmakers' Trophy at the Sundance Film Festival and was named "Best First Film" by the New York Film Critics Circle.

LaBute's other films include "Possession" (2002), an adaptation of A. S. Byatt's Booker Prize-winning novel, starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Aaron Eckhart; "Nurse Betty" (2000), a comic thriller that was nominated for the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival, and starred Morgan Freeman and Renée Zellweger; and "Your Friends and Neighbors" (1998), starring Jason Patric and Ben Stiller.

LaBute's plays include "The Mercy Seat" (2002), about a married businessman who escapes being killed on 9/11 because he is in bed with his lover; "The Distance from Here" (2002), a look at the dark side of American suburbia; and "bash: latter-day plays" (1999), a trio of one act plays about Mormons struggling to make sense of evil in themselves and others.

"Autobahn," a collection of five new one-act plays, all of them set inside a car, will be published in book form in January 2005.

Times Union Article