RED BANK: ‘PARIS’ IN THE SPRING

Alec Baldwin, Diane Lane and  Arnaud Viard star in ‘Paris Can Wait,’ screening in a Thursday sneak-preview fundraiser at Red Bank’s Bow Tie Cinemas.

It maybe has some catching up to do with the likes of Cannes, but when it comes to being a mecca for first-run independent/”arthouse” feature films, Red Bank has long led the local pack — a fact that’s attributable primarily to White Street’s Bow Tie Cinemas (and its predecessor, Clearview Cinemas).

For most of the new millennium, the downtown movie house has done duty as official host venue for a series of sneak-preview screening events, spotlighting festival-favorite indies before they go into general release. Part of a long-running partnership between borough-based nonprofit Monmouth Arts and Sony Pictures Classics (the major distributor whose president, Tom Bernard, makes his home in Middletown), the series unspools once more this Thursday, May 11, with a 7:30 p.m. showing of “Paris Can Wait.”

The first (non-documentary) feature written and directed by Eleanor Coppola — the octogenarian spouse of filmmaker/winemaker legend Francis Ford Coppola (and mother of Oscar winning director Sofia Coppola, and aunt to Oscar winning actor Nic Cage) — the leisurely paced romantic “road trip” movie is the sort of affair in which “the journey” (an even more leisurely ramble from Cannes to, eventually, Paris, by way of such stops as Sainte-Victoire and Lyon) and “the menu” (a spectacular and lovingly photographed spread of entrees, appetizers, wines and desserts, coordinated for the project by Maria Sinskey) are as important as the cast.

Diane Lane — the onetime Brat Packer who specializes in such “groove-reclaimer” roles these days, when she’s not playing Superman’s mom — stars as the semi-neglected wife of a very busy Hollywood producer (the even busier Alec Baldwin), who’s offered a ride to the City of Lights by one of her husband’s “charming Gallic rogue” business associates (French actor and director Arnaud Vilard). It’s all very PG; in fact very Lifetime (the cable network was one of the producing entities for the project), and seems to rank with those films that were at least as much fun for their participants to make as they are to watch.

A 2016 festival entry that’s slated for general US release this Friday, “Paris Can Wait” has garnered reviews that have ranged from “buoyant and light-hearted” to “endless and tedious” — but judge for yourself when the fundraiser film unspools (tickets are $12 in advance, $15 at the door). Or, come for a 5:45 p.m. pre-show reception at Front St. Trattoria, with tickets to both film and reception available here for $45 ($35 for Arts Council members). As always, all admissions benefit the not-for-profit Monmouth Arts and its ever-expanding array of ongoing programs and special events.