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Road Movies 

Flick Chick

Drew Stone values audacious art, from hardcore rock bands with names like Biohazard to his own documentaries about gravity-defying stunts on city pavement. But the reason the 41-year-old New York native moved to Vermont last fall sounds rather warm and fuzzy. "What brought me here is a girl," the Barre resident acknowledges. In October, he'll marry her in Stowe.

Before the nuptials, however, Stone is heading out on the road. On Mem-orial Day he'll be at Guantanamo "to entertain the troops" with his street-bike films and a live choreographed show featuring some of the men and machines that appear in them. The Cuba gig will be followed by similar events throughout the summer in Poland, France and Canada.

Stone's latest production, Respect the Hustle, will be released on June 14. It profiles a guy he calls "the most well-known American rider right now;" coincidentally, Big Apple-based Tony D. Freestyle is sponsored by Land-Air Honda of Essex Junction. The dealership plans a live local performance by Mr. Freestyle in the fall or early 2006, says owner Don Erling.

Stone essentially invented the wheelies-with-attitude genre when he shot 12 O'Clock in 1999. "I discovered this radical, exciting movement that reminded me of early punk rock," he explains. "The movie, which is now a cult classic, was a big success and helped popularize the sport."

Over the next few years, Stone turned out Urban Street Bike Warriors and a slew of sequels. These one-hour DVD docs, sold online or at motorcycle shops, are also distributed in Europe, Japan and Australia. "There's no nudity. It's not a freak show. It's not Girls Gone Wild," he says.

Although his career began with music videos for acts such as Run DMC and Biggie Smalls, moviemaking is deeply rooted in Stone's life. He initially collaborated with his brother Evan, who has since become executive director of Current.tv, the youth-oriented television network Al Gore is helping to establish in San Francisco. Their father, Arny Stone, created commercials and directed Me Whee, a 1974 HBO doc about Muhammad Ali.

The Stone clan will soon welcome Drew's fiancée Cristine Cambrea into the family. "I've known her for eons. We broke up and then reconnected last summer, which is why Vermont's now my home," he says. "I'm so happy here." That emotional footnote that might make Biohazard blush.

In the new film Layer Cake, Daniel Craig plays a disaffected assassin who wants out of the crime business. The British hunk seems to have an Israeli doppelganger, an equally intense actor named Lior Ashkenazi. He's the star of Walk on Water, opening Friday at the Roxy in Burlington. This psychological thriller, directed by Eytan Fox, is about a Mossad assassin named Eyal whose killer instincts crumble when his wife commits suicide. Given a less violent assignment, he has to determine if a dead Nazi war criminal is actually still alive. Eyal goes undercover to befriend the old man's German grandchildren: Pia (Caroline Peters), who lives on a kibbutz, and her visiting gay brother Axel (Knut Berger). Things get complicated as these three attractive young people learn more about each other.

Set in Tel Aviv and Berlin, the absorbing Walk on Water effectively combines suspense, romance, drama, comedy, historical perspective and up-to-the-minute political observations. And watching Eyal search for his true self is easy on the eyes.

Despite workers testing equipment and installing carpet last Thursday morning, Palace 9 owner Harold Blank was determined to launch his Shelburne Road cinema with an afternoon matinee of Star Wars: Episode III -- Revenge of the Sith. The sci-fi blockbuster played through the night in three of his nine screening rooms.

On Friday, seven Sithless films joined the schedule to signify the official debut of a venue revival with really comfy maroon seats and a knock-your-socks-off digital sound system.

"I took custody of the place five weeks ago," explains Blank, a 57-year-old exhibitor from Massachusetts. "They didn't start manufacturing the seats for me in Mexico until May 6. I've put just under half a million dollars into the renovations."

He had six other partners at the Harvard Square Theater in 1970s Cambridge, later worked for Hoyts -- the previous proprietor of his South Burlington enterprise -- and is currently teamed with Merrill Jarvis in Williston's Majestic 10. But the Palace represents Blank's first solo venture.

He suggests, "This is an excellent film market -- as healthy as it gets in the Northeast."

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