Alexandre Rockwell

Active - 1981 - 2013  |   Born - Jan 1, 1957   |   Genres - Comedy, Drama, Comedy Drama

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Biography by Jason Buchanan

The director of such quirky, low-key films as In the Soup (1992) and 13 Moons (2002), filmmaker Alexandre Rockwell has had an uncanny penchant for making the most of the small, quiet moments that other filmmakers might gloss over in favor of meatier drama. As a result, Rockwell's ability to craft complex, multi-dimensional characters -- warts and all -- gained him a dedicated following in the world of independent filmmaking. A native of Massachusetts and the grandson of animators Alexandre Alexeieff and Claire Parker, Rockwell spent most of his teenage years making short films in the suburbs of Boston. Instead of college, Rockwell chose instead to go to Paris and work with his grandfather. Later studying filmmaking at the Cinemateque Francois, the aspiring director had already crafted a number of short films by the early '80s and was able to display his work at both Boston's Institute for Contemporary Art and New York City's Association of Independent Video and Film. Both shows helped Rockwell's reputation, and he soon got an opportunity to direct a feature film. An adaptation of a German novel that recounted a writer's spiral into madness, Lenz (1981) was Rockwell's feature debut and later became a fixture of the Berlin and Munich midnight movie circuit after being shown at the Berlin Film Festival in 1982. The film's success was key to the German financing of Rockwell's sophomore effort, and, in 1983, he released the symbolic road movie Hero. Documenting a group of misfits' journey to Truth or Consequences, NM, it received a Special Jury Prize at the 1984 U.S. Film Festival. Though there would be a six-year lull until Rockwell returned to the screen with Sons in 1989, the film helped reinforce the filmmaker's reputation as an "actor's director," despite receiving somewhat mixed reaction to his storytelling skills. It wasn't until his fourth feature, In the Soup, that Rockwell truly hit his stride, garnering accolades at the Sundance Film Festival and beginning a prosperous creative partnership with character actor Steve Buscemi. The tale of a put-upon, wannabe filmmaker who falls prey to a charming con artist in his quest to get his massive screenplay produced, the film possessed a unique charm that was greatly benefited by Buscemi and Seymour Cassel's memorable performances. Also in the cast was Rockwell's then-wife Jennifer Beals, who turned in a series of winning roles in numerous low-key indies in her post Flashdance days. Somebody to Love (1994) proved something of a disappointment; Rockwell's contribution to the disastrous Four Rooms (he directed the "The Wrong Man" segment) subsequently got lost in the shuffle; and many viewed Rockwell's 1998 effort Louis & Frank (which utilized characters from In the Soup) as Rockwell's weakest effort to date. Nevertheless, the director made something of a comeback with the 2002 comedy 13 Moons, once again using Buscemi, in addition to a great ensemble cast in what many considered his best work since In the Soup.

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