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Indie comedy ‘We Are the Hartmans’ is like an ‘Occupy Main Street’

for The Brooklyn Paper
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Take a pot-smoking rock club owner, a foreclosure threat and a bunch of rock-loving protesters — and you get “We Are The Hartmans,” a hot, Brooklyn-made indie comedy about our supersized, big box, shrink-wrapped culture.

Legendary actor Richard Chamberlain is the druggie whose fictional venue, Hartmans Rock Club, is at risk of closing until his loyal band of misfit musicians and fans band together for a climatic stand-off with the police until their demands are met.

It all sounds a bit like a certain protest movement that’s been in the papers lately.

“I think it’s parallel to Occupy Wall Street, because the protesters in the movie have all these different issues, but they all come together and realize they have the same goal,” said the Gowanus-based director Laura Newman. “In my movie, the hip hop group has different concerns than the bluegrass band, but for the first time they’re talking to each other and realizing they all want the same thing.”

Newman, a Bedford-Stuyvesant resident, will screen the movie on Nov. 7 at Southpaw, an apt setting, given that the Fifth Avenue rock venue is a bit like Newman’s Hartmans Club, the last haven for its diverse neighborhood.

Behind the obvious Occupy Wall Street parallel, there is also Newman’s general distaste for national chains, which she believes are homogenizing our cities and our culture.

“I made this film to say something about towns being devastated by big chain stores,” said Newman, whose immediate inspiration came from Hank’s Saloon in Boerum Hill, the honky-tonk bar that was in danger of being sold just in July.

The social commentary on corporations ruining communities is accompanied by a script ripe with fart jokes, pot-smoking reverends, and drag queens— but it won over Chamberlain, whose career includes more costume dramas than flatulance (at least on camera).

“It’s a great script and that it would be a blast to play a Willie Nelson-type of character,” said the legendary actor, who share screen time with the less-legendary Ben Curtis (of the “Dude You’re Getting a Dell” commercials). “It was like an adventure.”

We Are the Hartmans” at Southpaw [125 Fifth Ave. at Sterling Place in Park Slope, (718) 230-0236] on Nov. 7 at 7 pm. Tickets $10. For info, visit www.wearethehartmans.com

Reach reporter Alfred Ng at newsroom@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4506.
Updated 5:27 pm, July 9, 2018
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