News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon


Thirty-three films were released in U.S. theaters December 1. The number may surprise you with all the talk of the Hollywood writer's strike that went on for months. But these films, like nearly all, had been in the works for years. It takes that long from concept to financing to production to release for a movie to make it to the screen.

One of the 33 is "Eileen," which had its limited release in New York, Boston, and Los Angeles on December 1 and which will open "wide" Friday, December 8. The critically acclaimed film will be available in Dallas, Philadelphia, Miami, Portland, Seattle, Chicago - and Sisters.

"Eileen" premiered January 21 at The Sundance Film Festival, a powerhouse launching pad for some of the world's best-known movies.

Normally an "indie" film (independent film produced outside the major film system) like this wouldn't make it to Sisters on the first wide weekend. Sisters Movie House landed the film destined for success as Luke Goebel, the movie's screenwriter, has deep roots in Sisters Country.

Goebel actually co-wrote the script with his wife, Ottessa Moshfegh. It is based on her 2015 debut novel by the same name. The book "Eileen," published by Penguin Press, won the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award for debut fiction and was shortlisted for the 2016 Man Booker Prize and the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award.

The novel is available at Paulina Springs Books.

Goebel will be on hand for the Sisters opening. That night's solo 7:15 p.m. performance will be sold as Event Pricing, meaning $16 per ticket, which gets you the opportunity to meet and ask Goebel questions.

I already got to talk with Goebel and the studio allowed me an advanced screening. After enduring the stinker "Napoleon," the two-hour, 38-minute awkward epic, Eileen was especially gratifying.

Critics agree. The Gold Standard for movie ratings (for good or bad) is Rotten Tomatoes, where it scores an impressive 88 percent Tomatometer. I know. Who comes up with names like this? The Metacritic aggregator's Metascore rating is 71, indicating a generally favorable impression.

As word of mouth grows, so do the reviews from the highest echelons, including The New York Times, the Los Angles Times, Variety, and the major London dailies. The Hollywood Reporter said: "Rippling with sly humor and a bold command of the tropes of classic Hitchcockian suspense, this is a twisty and beguiling original, led by contrasting but expertly synced performances from Thomasin McKenzie and Anne Hathaway."

You need to see it for yourself, and not take my word for it. Many of us in Sisters are old enough to remember Alfred Hitchcock films. The comparisons are apt.

Goebel, who spent a major part of his youth at his family's cabin near Tumalo, still has close family here and he visits often. He plans to stay through Christmas after the Sisters Movie House premiere.

Home for Goebel and Moshfegh and their four dogs is Pasadena. I teased him that he has gone Hollywood, but he quickly retorted that as we were speaking he could look outside his window and know that at any second a bear, raccoon, or any manner of wildlife could saunter by. Definitely not Hollywood.

"I think folks in Sisters will like 'Eileen,'" he said. "The wintry scenes will resonate."

Set in 1964 Massachusetts, the film was actually shot in New Jersey.

"It's easier on the budget and many of the cast and crew live in New York," Goebel said.

Talking with Luke Goebel is like talking to almost anybody in Sisters. Relaxed. Grounded. Unassuming. Goebel's mother, Liz Eiting, and his sister, Marie Salvidar, a Realtor, live here in town. His dad is still in Tumalo. Salvidar had this to say when we chatted Sunday:

"He's always been very creative from an early age. He acted in school plays and took lead in theater production. He was always writing, including poetry. We just knew he would someday take that talent to a major level."

Drew Kaza, co-owner of Sisters Movie House, said that Salvidar was a big reason we will be on the front end of what looks like a film destined for bigger things. The Los Angles Times is already using "Oscar" in its 1,300-word review.

Goebel's sister is a constant promoter of her brother's works, which include books "Fourteen Stories, None of Them Are Yours" and "Boot of the Boot."


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