Hamptons Journal: Michael Shannon Stars in 99 Homes / Chess in the Schools

Last week, at a special screening at Guild Hall, Michael Shannon spoke about his work on 99 Homes, a feature directed by Ramin Bahrani about the housing crash, specifically dramatizing the horror to families as their homes are reclaimed by those from whom they were offered home loans in the housing boom. Michael Shannon plays the heavy, his square jaw set as he gives fathers, like Dennis Nash, played by Andrew Garfield, a few minutes to gather wives, kids, belongings, and get out. The results are heart wrenching, with everything they own thrown out onto the street. If the families don't have a place to go, they might end up in the lowdown motel where Nash, his son and mother (a fierce Laura Dern) end up. The drama plays like a taut thriller arousing your worst nightmares, as these events are based on the true plight of many Americans caught in the 2008 housing crash.

After the screening, Ramin Bahrani, in conversation with Dan Abrams, spoke about working with his actors, providing a blueprint of a script for actors to fill out. Shannon supplied some of the most inventive dialogue. At one point, as Rick Carver, he lectures Nash, who only wants to return to his family home, on not being sentimental about houses: what's a home? Just boxes. He breaks it down, and you glimpse the extraordinary way that Shannon's performance humanizes this villain, makes him part of the victim cycle; you see how a man can be ruthless about profiting on the misfortune of others. As Ramin Bahrani made clear, the system is the enemy.

Many were on hand for this powerful film: Gina Gershon, Robert Wilson, Jon Robin Baitz, Joan Juliet Buck, Ken Olin and Patricia Wettig, but one person who was expected was not there: Ingrid Sischy, who died last week. Peggy Siegal dedicated the evening to her.

On Tuesday, a special chess tournament, the first in the Hamptons, at Jack Lenor Larson's LongHouse Reserve, gave an opportunity to the best young players on the east end to compete, said Marley Kaplan, President and CEO of Chess in The Schools. Fifty students, grades K-12, were present for these matches, from New York City and Long Island. The tournament gave the children a chance to learn new facets and strategies of the game, and helped young people develop skills in critical thinking and problem solving, as they played in the matches.

The tournament also gave attendees an opportunity to interact with Yoko Ono's 1999 work of art, Play it By Trust. The artwork is intended to emphasize focus, camaraderie, and strategic planning, three of the most important aspects of chess. Chess is a great learning tool, and an exciting game that brings together people of different ages and cultures.

A version of this post also appears on Gossip Central.