Review: ‘Red Diaper Baby’

Memoirist Josh Kornbluth's monologue on being the son of eccentric American Communists makes a fine transition from stage to screen in heartfelt performance piece. Produced and shot for the Sundance Channel, pic will parlay Jewish fest rounds to airings on the cabler and future niche DVD success among the Kornbluth faithful.

Memoirist Josh Kornbluth’s monologue on being the son of eccentric American Communists makes a fine transition from stage to screen in humorous, heartfelt performance piece “Red Diaper Baby.” Produced and shot for the Sundance Channel, pic will parlay Jewish fest rounds to airings on the cabler and future niche DVD success among the Kornbluth faithful.

Inspired by the late Spalding Gray’s collaborations with helmer Jonathan Demme, Kornbluth’s performing style consists of humorous personal memoirs marbled with pathos and a bracing sense of intellectual curiosity on a mostly bare stage. “My father, Paul Kornbluth, was a Communist,” the monologuist announces up front. “He believed there was going to be a violent Communist revolution in this country, and that I was going to lead it.” Beat. “Just so you get a sense of the pressure.” Natural effervescence of the husky Kornbluth, who wrote and starred in 2001 indie “Haiku Tunnel” and has been honing this material since 1992, is infectious and absorbing. Pic was shot over two nights at San Francisco’s Magic Theater by “Hype!” and “Scratch” documentarian Doug Pray, who wisely keeps intact the evocative minimalism of fine tech package.

Red Diaper Baby

Production

A Sundance Channel production in association with Hello Hooker Prods., the Z Space Studio. Produced by Brian Benson. Executive producers, Paola Freccero, David R. Fuchs. Co-executive producer, David Dower. Directed by Doug Pray. Screenplay, Josh Kornbluth.

Crew

Camera (color, Super 16mm), Robert Bennett; editor, Pray; music, Marco d'Ambrosio; production designer, Tracey Gallacher. Reviewed on videocassette, Wheaton, Md., Nov. 20, 2004. (In Washington D.C. Jewish, Mill Valley film festivals.) Running time: 92 MIN.

With

Josh Kornbluth.
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