Know the feeling you get after watching a brilliant movie and you're still trying to connect all the dots?

Know the feeling you get after watching a brilliant movie and you're still trying to connect all the dots?

This is the impression filmmaker and actor Chris Malinowski hopes to make on moviegoers after they see the premiere of his new $150,000 budget film, "Yes, Your Tide is Cold and Dark Sir," in Rehoboth Beach at Movies at Midway on Jan. 19. The movie will also be shown at the theater on Jan. 20.

"The film creates an uncomfortable, vulnerable world," explained Malinowski, 43, formerly of Pike Creek, who now calls Landenberg, Pa., his home. "It's a film you need to watch closely: there's lots of ins and outs and red herrings."

Something strange is brewing

"Yes, Your Tide is Cold and Dark Sir" — produced by Myatin Filmworks (co-founded by Malinowski and Alan Burkhard) — is a cerebral drama that centers on the mystery of missing rogue guitar instructor Rudy "Clay" Claitonowsky and three of his teenage pupils who've vanished into the sand dunes of Cape Henlopen.

Eight months later, Claitonowsky's estranged son, Cliff (played by Malinowski), makes an emotional pilgrimage back to Lewes — a place he abandoned 12 years ago, following the death of his mom.

Amending his past and that of his father's, Cliff begrudgingly forges relationships with mirthful barfly Jack, his father's closest friend, as well as the elderly Merrill, his mother's one-time hospice nurse. He also gets to know restaurant owner Jacey, Claitonowsky's former mistress and the mother of Carl Tullivan, one of the missing teens.

Looming beyond Cliff's quest is the presence of shady real estate mogul Rick Tullivan, Jacey's ex-husband and father of Carl, and a shadowy assemblage of reserved, faceless men, with grim ties to Claitonowsky who threaten Cliff nocturnally. As Cliff becomes mired in the unrequited love of his father, the missing teens re-appear, one by one, with a single phrase on their lips: "Yes, your tide is cold and dark, sir."

He 'bucked the system'

Art imitates life, and so does "Yes, Your Tide." The film is somewhat autobiographical for Malinowski.

Claitonowsky, the rogue guitar instructor, was loosely inspired by Malinowski's late father, Sylvester (better known as Butch or Mal). Mal was a well-respected, but unconventional, guitar instructor at his former music shop in Wilmington named Mal's Music, from the early 1970s to early 2000s.

"My father was indeed an eccentric guitar instructor, and he was pretty much a guru in Newark and Hockessin and even in Landenberg," recalled Malinowski, who currently teaches guitar at Accent Music on Kirkwood Highway. "People would come to his store on Kirkwood Highway in Wilmington, Mal's Music. But there was always a mystery to my father. He didn't believe in the traditional lifestyle. He was a guy who kind of bucked the system."

For instance, "if he was teaching students and their parents were there, he would still use questionable language," beamed Malinowski.

Anchoring "Yes, Your Tide" in the Rehoboth/Lewes area stems from Malinowski's adventures downstate, whilst a film student at Ithaca College in New York during his mid-20s.

"When I was going to film school, I was spending a lot of time with my aunt who lived in Lewes," he said. "I would walk around the town at night and I would feel as though there was a churning mystery to me [about the place] that seemed a little hopeful, but also dangerous."

Malinowski doesn't know why he's long identified Lewes as both an enchanting place tinged with mystery. However, his fascination with the area has made it the perfect location for Clay and his pupils to get swallowed up in.

"The movie is a love letter to the beauty of Lewes, but also its mystery," he echoed.

The big picture

In addition to screening "Yes, Your Tide" in Rehoboth, Malinoskwi said he intends to show it at the Delaware Art Museum on Mar. 9 and 10 (showtimes and admission prices for the Museum screening are still being finalized), as part of his plan to accomplish a big objective.

"The goal is to give the film a year to a year-and-a-half of festival life in national and international film festivals, and simultaneously look for an art house distribution deal."

WHAT Film premiere of "Yes, Your Tide is Cold and Dark Sir"
WHEN 6:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 19; 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 20.
WHERE Movies at Midway, 18585 Coastal Highway, Suite 1, Rehoboth Beach
COST $10 adult; $7.50 matinee (all screenings prior to 6 p.m.); $7.50 senior (60-plus)
INFO or 645-1135

WHAT Screening of 'Yes, Your Tide is Cold and Dark Sir'
WHEN Saturday, Mar. 9; Sunday, Mar. 10: showtimes for both dates haven't been announced yet
WHERE Delaware Art Museum, 2301 Kentmere Parkway, Wilmington
COST To be announced
INFO or 571-9590