Passaic, New Jersey

(photo by Robert Stolarik)
My friend Roy Koshy and I recently discussed the new Michael Gondry movie, “Be Kind Rewind,” which is scheduled for release in January ’08. It stars Mos Def, Jack Black, Danny Glover, Mia Farrow and Melonie Diaz. “Gondry can do no wrong, in my eyes,” Roy said, to which I nodded enthusiastically. The bulk of the movie was shot about a year ago in Passaic, New Jersey, a sleepy little town about 12 miles west of Manhattan. I was not at all surprised to read that Gondry and the townspeople got along famously.
(photo by Robert Stolarik)

“More than 300 residents, an unusually high number, were used as extras in the film… They appear in the foreground, the background. They dance. Dozens have speaking roles. Samuel Rivera, Passaic’s colorful mayor and a former professional wrestler, has a small speaking part. Shydeshia Pickett, who is 10 and in the fifth grade, has a line, but she would not reveal it because it contains a bad word. Perrie Hogges, 81, appears not once but three times. Frank Heins, 41, who used to live in a trailer in the junkyard where he works, was able to join the Screen Actors Guild after landing a small role.

‘We wanted to reflect the multiethnicity that is Passaic, to be in harmony with the city,’ Mr. Gondry said. ‘In New York, some people are fed up with shooting, and have attitude. Here, we got really great support.’ ” (The New York Times;  Oct. 25, 2006)

What’s more, local standup comic Heather Lawless, of Variety SHAC fame, appears at the very beginning of the trailer. And, of course, I look forward to watching the chemistry that develops onscreen between Mos Def and Jack Black, both of whom are accustomed to stealing scenes in movies.

And, finally, Mos Def is one of the greatest hip-hop artists today, and this is probably one of the greatest hip-hop performances of all time.

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