Renner star's bright; hometown in the dark

07/09/2009 1:17 PM

10/28/2009 12:39 AM

If we were to rely on the opinion of Entertainment Weekly -- and, really, why wouldn't we? -- Jeremy Renner just could be the next big thing.

The Modesto native with the fast-rising acting star continues to garner accolades for his leading role in the wildly praised film "The Hurt Locker."

The Iraqi war-based movie, made in 2008 and first released on the film-festival circuit that same year, opened on a handful of screens June 26 and will open to more theaters nationwide today. Unfortunately, none of those theaters are in the Modesto region.

But the critically acclaimed movie has been all over Entertainment Weekly, with the magazine giving Renner double props in its

June 26 / July 3 edition.

He made the mag's "Must List" under the heading of "Most Explosive Performance" and is praised again for his memorable acting in the issue's movie review section.

Then, in its July 10 issue, EW names "The Hurt Locker" among its top 10 "ridiculously early picks" to win this year's Academy Award for best film.

Of course, we wouldn't know why in the Modesto region, what with the film not opening here and all.

Here's a little bug to place in the ear of the folks over at the State Theatre:

Bring in the movie.

Quickly.

Heck, "The Hurt Locker" has "State Theatre" written all over it. The State consistently brings in critically acclaimed but limited-release movies for this region's cinephiles to enjoy. In fact, the State's film offerings have increased dramatically (no pun intended) over the past few months.

This Renner vehicle -- which could send the Beyer High graduate's star right out of the stratosphere -- is perfect for the downtown Modesto venue.

And, based on Renner's continued connection to his hometown, where his parents and other family members still live and where he continues to pay regular visits -- including to his 20-year high school reunion last month -- the State just might be able to turn a screening here into a fund-raising event.

Renner has come home to Modesto to sign autographs at Brenden Theaters for the openings of his films "S.W.A.T.," "North Country" and "28 Weeks Later." I'm thinking the State could persuade him home for a similar event if it brought in "The Hurt Locker." (Little bug in ear, little bug in ear).

Renner already was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for his "Hurt Locker" role -- his second lead-acting nomination from that group.

His intense and searing performances continue to draw attention in the industry.

In September 2008, Time magazine had this to say about Renner in its review of "The Hurt Locker": He's had supporting roles in 'North Country,' '28 Weeks Later' and 'The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford,' but this is his big chance, and he seizes it. He's ordinary, pudgy-faced, quiet, and at first seems to lack the screen charisma to carry a film. That supposition vanishes in a few minutes as Renner slowly reveals the strength, confidence and unpredictability of a young Russell Crowe. The merging of actor and character is one of the big things to love about this movie."

Sure, if the film gets an Oscar nod, it finally might make its way to Renner's hometown. But why should we have to wait?

Come on, give Modesto a chance to see now what all the hubbub is about.


Elsewhere around the Scene: Pine trees, a cool breeze and a little night music. Sound nice? If so, check out the Concerts in the Pines on Saturday featuring local band Crazy Ivan. The group plays rock, pop, blues, jazz, funk and Southern rock. The free concert begins at 6 p.m. at Eproson Park, Twain Harte. 586-4482.

Looking for something to do next weekend? Mark your calendars for the George Cole & Vive Le Jazz show at the West Side Theatre. The group plays swing-era, gypsy-jazz groove -- and waltzes, too. The band pulls into the theater, 1331 Main St., Newman, for an 8 p.m. July 18 show. Doors open at 7 p.m. and tickets are $15 general, $18 reserved. See www.westsidetheatre.org or call 862-4490.

Contact Scene editor Pat Clark at pclark@modbee.com.

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