The Mysteries of Pittsburgh: The Movie

MOP014_Peter Sarsgaard as Cleveland Arning and Jon Foster as Art Bechstein stare up at the cloud factory

[Peter Sarsgaard & Jon Foster contemplate The Cloud Factory. Courtesy Peace Arch Films.]

Michael Chabon’s first novel, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, has been made into a feature film (website here) opening this Friday evening at the Embarcadero Center Cinema. It stars Jon Foster as Art Bechstein and Nick Nolte as his gangster dad, Sienna Miller as the love interest, and Peter Sarsgaard as the jealous semi-ex boyfriend. To quote the plot summary from the ticket page:

A coming-of-age story set in the faded glory of early 1980s-era Pittsburgh … the story opens with Art Bechstein (Foster) floundering in his new-found post-college freedom, opting to take the job with the least amount of responsibility he can find (at the appropriately titled Book Barn), while sleep walking through the Series Seven prep courses that will speed him into a job chosen for him by his father (Nolte), far away from the security of his childhood Pittsburgh. Art’s fortunes begin to change when a chance encounter with freshman roommate and part-time drug dealer Mohammed (Omid Abtahi) lands him at a swanky summer party where he falls for the beautifully tipsy Jane Bellwether (Miller). The two quickly connect over a late-night plate of pie, but Jane’s on-again off-again boyfriend Cleveland (Sarsgaard) has other plans for the pair. Taking Art hostage from the dreary Book Barn, Cleveland threatens to throw Art off the top of an abandoned steel mill, a hide-out that Cleveland romantically calls “The Cloud Factory.” Suspended high above Pittsburgh, Art realizes that his summer has finally begun, what would become the last true summer of his life.

Superfans of the book should know that the director and screenwriter, Rawson Marshall Thurber (Dodgeball) has substantially reworked the material to make it more cinematic; you may already have noticed that one major character is entirely gone from the summary above, and a lot of other stuff has been dropped, added, or otherwise changed. But in spite of all that, it really captures the essence of the book — which isn’t surprising, as Michael Chabon himself was intimately involved with the development of the film, giving a great deal of support to Thurber and feedback on his script, and he has approved of the final product.

Incidentally, last year I wrote about how Oakley Hall prompted Chabon to turn that dad into a gangster, so in a way, we have Oakley Hall to thank for this nice movie.

Tickets available here; engagement begins Friday night at the Embarcadero Center Cinema.

2 Comments so far

  1. panny on April 9th, 2009 @ 10:37 am

    That’s not how you spell Pittsburgh.
    There is an "h" at the end.


  2. Jeremy Hatch (jhatch) on April 9th, 2009 @ 11:56 am

    Oh duh, I knew that. Fixed it. Thanks!



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