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Movie chatter: Anticipation for 'Elizabethtown' Builds Locally and Over the Internet , The News Enterprise (US), September 1, 2005
By BRIAN T. KEHL
from Lauren

The clock is ticking for the premier of the Cameron Crowe movie "Elizabethtown," and both Internet forums and locals who played a role in the film are twittering with excitement.

While "Elizabethtown" is not scheduled to be released until Oct. 14 - moved back from an original release date of July 29 (some critics suggest for a better Oscar position) - at least two test-screenings already have taken place and the film will be shown at several festivals, including the Venice Film Festival in Italy, the Toronto International Film Festival on Sept. 10 and the Chicago International Film Festival about a week before its full release.

"Elizabethtown" is about a young man named Drew Baylor (Orlando Bloom) whose mistake costs his company a substantial amount of money and Baylor his job. Depressed, he turns to suicide, but his father dies and he must go back to Kentucky for the funeral. On the way he meets a flight attendant named Claire Colburn (Kirsten Dunst).

Viewers at test-screenings who wrote reviews for aintitcoolnews.com said the film is good but not great, at least according to past Crowe standards. The reviewers said parts of the film are loaded with standard Hollywood cliches that Crowe himself has helped create, loads of music, and is long and dragging in parts.

The purpose of test screenings is to survey an audience's response, see what works and doesn't, and the film could still be tweaked. The reviews said there is "a good film in there somewhere."

While festival-goers and screeners critique the movie, though, several Hardin County residents are eager for the film to open for another reason: to see themselves, and their town on the big screen.

"Absolutely I'm very excited," said Elizabeth Buford, a Central Hardin graduate and Transylvania University student who was an extra and worked on the film.

"I can't believe they came to Elizabethtown, Kentucky," she said.

Buford just completed a film acting class in New York City after accepting a scholarship from Transylvania. She said she has learned a new appreciation for the art.

"I've learned about the film craft and the art and science," she said. "I've learned so much about it."

Ron Kowalkoski, who was a background actor in the movie's funeral scene, said he also is excited.

"I've been telling all my relatives and everything else," he said. His friends in Elizabethtown have been watching the trailer on the Internet.

Kowalkoski said the funeral is one of the larger scenes in the movie.

"I'm in the Army officers uniformed at the end," he said. "Susan Sarandon has the flag in her hand and I'm right behind her."

Sam Alexander, another background actor from the area, said his sources told him the movie will be humorous.

"My daughter was in Portland, Ore., and she saw a large poster of it, and she said it looks like it's going to be a very amusing picture," he said. "I think you could say that it is a romantic comedy."

Internet speculation suggests that movie fans from around the country have mixed feelings about the upcoming film. Most threads, or Internet forums, are positive and filled with anticipation. However, in more than one room, including Yahoo.com, fans who claim to be from the area express concern about the accents used in the movie.

Kaitlyn Smith (Smith is her last name in Internet forums, at her mother's insistence) is a sophomore at New Albany High School in Indiana. She has been following the movie since June 2004, and went to The Brown Hotel in Louisville to watch filming and get autographs.

"I think that since 'Eliabethtown' was filmed so close to my home that it really made me excited to see it," she said. "I also think that it will be really neat for our community to have a movie released that has so much to do with Kentucky and even though I live on the Indiana side of the river, I still think that is so neat."

Smith said she spends time on several message boards, including IMDB.com, TheOrlandoBloomFiles.com, Full-Bloom.net and Orlandoultramedia.net.

"It's really fun to talk to other people who are just as excited about the movie as you are," she said.

Paramount has not announced where the film will premiere, but in a recent interview on joblow.com, Bloom said of the filming locations, "We were embraced by the community and embraced the community and we really had a nice time. I loved it. I'm looking forward to getting down there for the premiere."

The comments fuel further speculation that the film may be premiered in the area.

The local extras have said they will see the movie as soon as they can. Alexander, for one, is looking forward to his big-screen debut, but said he doesn't think his brief career as an actor will go to his head.

"Heck no," he said. "I'm the same old guy I always was."