Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Fountain - Movie Review

The Fountain 2006

Way back in 1998, when our dear friend Evil Scotty told us we simply had to watch “л” we acquiesced (‘cause we’re a little bit afraid of him) and witnessed the cinematic birth of Darren Aronofsky, the then hot new “auteur”. We had to agree that he definitely had a sense of visual flair and was a competent director who didn’t completely drive us mad with indie yearnings. When somebody finally threw him some cash and he gave birth to “Requiem for a Dream”, we thanked him profusely for providing one of our favorite acting divas, Ellen Burstyn with a pseudo comeback role that nabbed her an Oscar nomination for Best Actress . . . that she ended up losing to Julia Roberts for “Erin Brockovich”. Excuse us a moment while we throw up our dinner at the memory of the Academy thinking Julia Roberts is a better actress than Ellen Burstyn. Moving on.

Well, now Darren is back with a . . . what the hell would you call this? A science fantasy rumination on the fluidity of time, love and memory? A visually exotic rambling on the mystery of life, the afterlife and infinity? A masturbatory fantasy by a ten year old geek that did a book report on Ponce de León and his legendary search for the “Fountain of Youth” in fourth grade history class and is trying to force it down our throats as art? Or just an incredibly boring, vapid, featherweight movie that attempts to ask a lot of questions bordering on mysticism and fails completely? Yes, let’s go with that one.

For Darren has written a fantasy film centered on the yearning that mankind has experienced to solve the mystery of death by cheating it via an elixir of everlasting youth. Be careful what you wish for young man! While we would never question Mr. Aronofsky’s ability to paint a lovely picture, and he does have a very nice sense of composition that shows he actually paid attention during one or two film courses, but he clearly missed his screenwriting classes. Or maybe he just failed them.

The Fountain” is a joke. A joke on the audience, the actors and the producers of this film. It is an infinitely bad movie masquerading as a love story for the ages and beyond. It features some talented actors, some not so talented and an all too brief role for our beloved Ellen Burstyn who must still be so thankful for her sixth Oscar nomination that she has agreed to sleepwalk through her role as the trusted mentor figure / doctor. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

The Fountain” concerns three ages of man. One man in particular. One Tomas, a Spanish knight out to search for the mysterious “Tree of Life” that will provide the magic nectar to save mankind from death. At the behest of his Queen Isabel, Tomas braves the jungles and Indiana Jones style traps riddled with flying arrows and death hungry natives defending the exact whereabouts of the Tree.

Tomas will one day return as Tommy, the beloved of one Izzi who is slowly succumbing to Ali McGraw syndrome and dying a beautifully soft focus death. Tommy is a research scientist who is just seconds away from discovering a cure, or magical restorative drug that can repair and heal the damaged body. A godsend for Izzi if he can crack the code in time.

Tommy will later become a bald, neutered monk-like creature floating in a giant snowglobe along with the Tree of Life cascading across the galaxies to only God knows where, if there is still a God at this point, ‘cause we were honestly beginning to doubt His or Her existence by the amount of bile that had built up in our chest after watching even one half hour of this dreck. Sadly, the film chooses to drift as aimlessly through the night as Tommy Monkboy in his floating bubble. In reality, when we glanced at our watch after the films dismally trite ending, we realized the movie was only 96 minutes long! You know when a film is 96 minutes long and plays like its “Shoah Part II”, you’re in trouble.

As Tomas / Tommy / Dr. Creo / Monkboy, Aronofsky has cast that tap dancing feral superhero cum Broadway star, Hugh Jackman. Now, we consider Hugh to be a very underrated actor. His hunky exterior has been given short shrift in the movies, outside of his starmaking role as Wolverine in the “X-Men” franchise. Here, as the wandering night errand for his dying mistress, he doesn’t embarrass himself and actually manages to be quite believable in all his drag getup, but he is acting off an empty plate. The words are simply not there. This film is about imagery, which can be a good thing if you are a truly visionary director or it can be an insufferable bore. If you picked option number two, you would be correct.

As the regal death maiden, Queen Isabel / Izzi, Oscar winner (Ouch, that hurts. Twice in one review?) Rachel Weisz does a nice Ali McGraw imitation and that’s about it. Seriously, people. Does nobody else remember Rachel in “The Mummy” series? Because pretty much anything outside of that she seems to barely get by in. Here, she is opulently decked out in the appropriate queenly jewel encrusted robes and finery, and alternately shaved and plucked to convince us of her near death like state as the cancer ridden Izzi. Unfortunately, she might have dropped a few pounds for that role, since she is the healthiest looking dying girl we’ve seen since Shelley Winters in “The Poseidon Adventure”.

Our beloved Ellen Burstyn barely glimmers in the eviscerated role of Dr. Lillian Guzetti, the overseer of the testing done by Tom. She is on hand to give friendly but stern advice, and little else. Although compared to the rest of the cast, we were prepared to hand her an Oscar for merely showing up and not embarrassing herself.

The embarrassment we will leave to Darren Aronofsky. Darren. Listen. Yes the snowglobe is pretty to look at. So are many actual snowglobes, it doesn’t make them terribly interesting as drama however. If your point was to make an interesting film about time travel, you failed. If your point was to make a meditative examination into the everlasting quality of love and spirituality, you failed miserably. If your point was to make us laugh out loud at the most inopportune moments, congrats you succeeded!

For once we finally witness Tomas discovering the secret to the Tree of Life, as he throws himself with wanton abandon upon its hefty trunk, pierces the bark with his unsheathed sword calling forth the hot, creamy liquid and upon bended knees begins to guzzle the brew oh so hungrily and greedingly until he is spent and lying prone on his back. Well, this scene is not exactly doing Hugh Jackman any favors with the tabloids, is it now?

We don’t know what to make of this mess of a movie. While some of the floating snowglobe visuals were pretty in a hidden porpoise kinda way, the visuals are in complete misalliance to the rest of the movie. There is no movie here. Perhaps the whole crew was still zonked out on the leftover drugs from “Requiem for a Dream”, and short of taking turns on the oversized double headed black dildo from that film’s finale, decided to go with the tree and the globes. Well, shame on you Darren. You should have stayed home. As you should, dear reader. Simply do not waste your time on a filmmaker that is more considered with making indecipherable movies that attempting to entertain his audiences with real ideas. Bless you all!

Directed by Darren Aronofsky
Story by Darren Aronofsky and Ari Handel

Hugh Jackman as Tomas / Tommy / Dr. Tom Creo
Rachel Weisz as Queen Isabel / Izzi Creo
Ellen Burstyn as Dr. Lillian Guzetti
Mark Margolis as Father Avila
Stephen McHattie as Grand Inquisitor Silecio
Sean Patrick Thomas as Antonio
Donnna Murphy as Betty
Ethan Suplee as Manny

Cinematography by Matthew Libatique
Film Editing by Jay Rabinowitz
Original Music by Clint Mansell
Costume Design by Renée April
Production Design by James Chinlund
Art Direction by Isabelle Guay, Michele Laliberte, Nicolas Lepage & Jean-Pierre Paquet
Set Decoration by Paul Hotte and Philippe Lord


Monday, November 20, 2006

Robert Altman - Our tribute.

In loving tribute to Robert Altman
Born February 20, 1925 in Kansas City, Missouri
Died November 20, 2006 in Los Angeles, California

When Robert Altman passed away on Monday, November 20th he left behind five decades worth of directorial projects ranging from his earliest work as a gun for hire director from the salad days of television to his later film masterpieces. Yes, we said masterpieces.

A while back a good friend of ours (Hi, Ollie!) asked us what we thought was the last great breakthrough in film. We ruminated for a moment, and said: “M*A*S*H”. For like many breakthrough films throughout cinema history, “M*A*S*H” coalesced various techniques – the camera as character, overlapping dialogue, multi story plotlines – all of which filtered through Altman’s lens quickly became not only his calling card, technique, what have you but an altogether new shortcut for the feel and texture of a movie. Altmanesque was born.

No other director working in the 1970s can claim to have been more of a symbol for that era, or responsible for better films. Not Scorsese, Coppola, Forman, Fosse, Bogdanovich nor Spielberg. Beginning with “M*A*S*H” in 1970 and ending with the underrated “A Perfect Couple” in 1979 nobody else came close to capturing the changing times. For you see kids, the grand and glorious studio years were over and the rise of the young maverick director was upon us. Sadly, that would lead to the death of good mainstream storytelling ability and the birth of film school graduates armed with handheld cameras, a healthy dose of nausea inducing herky jerky movements that only served to distract the viewers and a complete lack of the very essence of great moviemaking – visual storytelling.

When asked about his famed style, Altman showed himself to be a class act:
"People talk about my signature. But I ask them if they ever saw Howard Hawks' films. They're filled with overlapping dialog. Everything I've learned has come from watching other directors: Bergman, Fellini, Kurosawa, Huston and Renoir."
But the true earmark of a great director is not necessarily their ability to reinvent the medium, it has more to do with recognizing the universal film language brought forth by earlier giants and melding the right ingredients into a brave new vision.

Robert Altman was a man who was never afraid of tackling any genre, from Westerns to Comedies to Musicals, almost always employing his signature techniques and a rotating cast of character actors that became his film family. Many famous stars appeared before his camera: Paul Newman, Sophia Loren, Lauren Bacall, Marcello Mastroainni, Anouk Aimée, Glenda Jackson, Jack Lemmon, Warren Beatty, Julie Christie, Harry Belafonte, Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Bruce Willis, Kim Basinger, Whoopi Goldberg, Cher. But it is for his exemplary use of such talented character actors as Maggie Smith, Helen Mirren, Derek Jacobi, Sissy Spacek, Shelley Duvall, Lily Tomlin, Elliott Gould, Donald Sutherland, George Segal, Karen Black, Geraldine Chaplin, Joel Grey, Barbara Harris, Scott Glenn, Ned Beatty, Kenneth Branagh, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Robert Downey Jr., Lili Taylor, Keith Carradine . . . the list is endless and equally impressive, that he will always be fondly remembered.

Here was a director who relished fine acting and brought out the best in his talented casts. Always living up to the idea of “the more the merrier”. While it is certainly true that the great Howard Hawks and Jean Renoir were masters at manipulating large casts themselves, Altman brought this style to a heady peak with such groundbreaking films as “M*A*S*H”, “Nashville”, “The Player”, “Short Cuts”, “Gosford Park” and this years brilliant “A Prairie Home Companion”. The first five films on that list earned Altman his five unsuccessful Best Director Oscar nominations, an oversight that the Academy sought to assuage with his Honorary Oscar presented at this year’s ceremony. The presentation itself was the highlight of the evenings festivities, staged with comic brillo by Lily Tomlin and Meryl Streep. A testament to the love his actors held for the great lion of modern moviemaking.

Even with the Academy’s version of a consolation prize, the master was grateful and humble. "I can't think of a better award - to me it's better for all of my work than for just a couple of things."

With his passing, many have begun to comment on his being the last true giant of film directing. He was certainly this countries best living director, one that lesser men and women looked up to with reverence. We will not argue the point. We merely suggest that you run to your nearest video outlet and purchase or rent some of his great films to bathe in their brilliance. Besides the aforementioned flicks, we would like to point out our own favorites – some recognized as masterpieces in their own right, some overlooked but equally worthy.

McCabe & Mrs. Miller” (1971), Altman’s finest hour in our opinion, a revisionist Western famed for its gritty production values consisting of a fictional town and a film set that was being built simultaneously. Warren Beatty and Julie Christie have never been better as a con man and whorehouse madame out to stake their own claims. Miss Christie earned her second of three Oscar nominations for this perfect performance.

Images” (1972), the once great and now almost forgotten Susannah York in her Cannes Film Festival award winning role as woman on the verge. Of what we leave to you to find out. A great companion piece to his later gem “3 Women”.

The Long Goodbye” (1973), Altman’s updating of Film Noir for the “Me Decade” featuring a great leading turn by Elliott Gould as Raymond Chandler’s legendary private dick, Philip Marlowe and a sterling supporting cast headlined by the very great Sterling Hayden.

California Split” (1974), Elliott Gould and George Segal deliver terrific performances as two low rent hucksters scavenging their way through penny ante hijinks. Altman’s most underrated flick, a real gem.

3 Women” (1977), recognized by the critics as a masterpiece, ignored by the public, this film has thankfully survived the ages as a modern film classic examining the lives of . . . well, three women. A wonderful look into the minds and more importantly the souls of three disparate characters.

Vincent & Theo” (1990), Altman’s biopic of the famed Van Gogh brothers symbiotic relationship that nurtured a genius. A mad, tortured genius, but one for the ages. With solid work by Tim Roth and Paul Rhys.

Cookie’s Fortune” (1999), Altman light and at his laid back comedic best. A wonderful and varied cast of pros, led by the legendary Patricia Neal in a heartbreaking performance as the matriarch of a wild and wily family consisting of Glenn Close, Julianne Moore and Liv Tyler!

In closing, we only wish to note that even Altman’s weaker films such as the infamous flops “Popeye” or “Prêt-à-Porter” benefit from his brilliant casting and satiric viewpoint. While they may not be worth your time, his list of hits more than compensate. And no living director can match the quality of his film successes. Watch and learn. And don’t forget to raise a glass to the great Robert Altman for all the terrific films he has left behind.

We leave you with this wonderful quote from the maestro himself:

Filmmaking is a chance to live many lifetimes.” In that case, Bob, your life has yet begun. Bless you all!


Friday, November 17, 2006

Casino Royale - Movie Review

Casino Royale 2006

Legend has it that when President John F. Kennedy was asked by a reporter which books he enjoyed reading, he replied the James Bond thrillers by Ian Fleming. Little did he realize he would help launch a craze for all things Bondian that would result in the most successful film franchise of all time. Well, forty three years and twenty one films (give or take) later, we have a new Bond.

Boy, do we ever. When we heard that our future husband Daniel Craig would take over the tuxedo, we nearly slid off our barstool in moist anxiety. When the production photos began to leak like a syphilitic whore onto the internet, we contemplated undergoing hypnosis to calm our nerves. When, finally we sat in a darkened theatre with two of our bestest pals, ProPain and Kokolicious awaiting the much hyped “new lookBond flick, we calmly removed our undergarments to prevent soiling. And thank God we did. (Well, Koko and I did - ProPain went for the exploding cars and busty babes. None of us were disappointed.)

From the opening scene which sets the tone for a darker, edgier, and less gadgetry laden Bond, we knew that Daniel Craig was not only the best choice to play James, he is the only choice. While we’ll let the Bond nerds debate the merits and minuses of Brosnan versus Dalton – we are here to tell you that not since a certain wife beating Scotsman named Sean planted his firm thighs in between the famed telescope lens opening has there been such an action packed, steamy, and exciting Bond flick. Well, we will pause to give credit to the most underrated Bond film of all time, the George Lazenby one shot “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” featuring the best Bond girl ever – Diana Rigg.

But, back to our future husband Daniel Craig. Danny has managed over the years to build himself quite an impressive resume by portraying a variety of bounders, cads, gun for hire and sexually charged heels. His acting chops are without question, delivering socko performances in everything from “Sylvia” to this year’s “Infamous”. And while some people would question the acting challenges to be found in a James Bond franchise flick, they would be wrong. As any true film lover can tell you, the classic action heroes throughout the years from Errol Flynn to John Wayne to Burt Reynolds and Harrison Ford were all fine actors who made carrying a gun and swinging through explosions look not only easy but believable.

Daniel Craig is no exception. His steely blue eyes locked fiercely upon his targets coupled with a buffed physique that assures the audience of his derring do makes him the most authoritative Bond in decades. The fact that he is equally at home donning the requisite tuxedo and swirling a martini glass seals the movie deal completely.

By now if you were expecting a completely revisionist Bond, you obviously fail to understand the meaning of the word “franchise”. This is no revision. If anything, it is a clearing of the detritus of excess that has been building since Bond sailed into outer space to challenge the onslaught of the “Star Wars” phenomena. While a Bond sans gadgets is a pipedream we shall never live to behold, they are kept to a spare minimum here. The focus is on action. This Bond is made real thanks to successful thrillers like “The Bourne Identity” and the popularity of martial arts imports that depict hair raising stunts paired with lightning quick fighting skills.

The plot, as in most Bond flicks is simple and secondary. International terrorism backed by multi million dollar manipulations responsible for a global connection of baddies that demand to be kicked hither and yon by one lone British agent. Instead of a “Goldfinger” or “The Man with the Golden Gun”, we have the return of the dastardly Le Chiffre, a personification of evil replete with a glaucoma laced stare. As played with a calm malevolence by Mads Mikkelsen (and honestly, that name is more Bondian than Le Chiffre), this villain weeps blood while mopping the floor with underlings. No volcano lairs, laser beams or oddly shaped Oriental henchmen.

For this Bond, the grand showdown occurs behind the table of a high stakes poker game held at . . . the Casino Royale! (Quelle surprise!) While we miss the original novel’s Baccarat game for its haughty glamour and international zeal, we assume that Texas Hold ‘em was the way to go for a mainstream flick. This brings us to our quibbles with the new Bond. And yes, we have a few. At almost two and half hours, it could stand to be trimmed to tighten the pace and up the suspense a tad. But, we suppose in hiring Martin Campbell to take another shot at our dreamy hero, the producers were opting for a man with a safe track record for action and not a creative genius.

Also, whoever was in charge in of the opening title sequence needs to stop playing with his Mac and learn from the master. Maurice Binder, they ain’t! And you Mr. Chris Cornell, are no Dame Shirley Bassey. (For our money, Dame Shirley should sing every Bond Theme Song.) That being said, we were so grateful to actually be interested and excited by a new Bond flick, that we forgive the producers these small flaws.

As the latest Bond girl, Eva Green lands the plum role of Vesper Lynd. We simply adored Mademoiselle Green for her deliciously flowing performance in Bernardo Bertolucci’s “The Dreamers”. At first, we couldn’t quite imagine her in the sexpot role of a Bond heroine, but then we remembered that this Bond Babe would not be of the Britt Ekland or Halle Berry mold. No, this Bond would require his gal to have acting skills, and simmer instead of shimmy. And for that, Mademoiselle Green is a fine choice indeed. One that seems truly inspired in the films final act when . . . well, we wouldn’t dream of spoiling the ending for you faithful readers.

The success of this film rests squarely on the shoulders of our future husband, Daniel Craig. When we finally composed ourselves enough to leave the theatre, assisted by ProPain and Kokolicious dangling a bottle of Grey Goose to help restore the blood that had completely drained out of our crotch – we heard perhaps the most wondrous and sought out sound that any film maker desires. Buzz. Everywhere you turned, men, women, small children were muttering Daniel Craig’s name. Clearly the huddled masses yearning to be entertained had never attended Mr. Craig’s artier hits, but now that he was made his name known to the movie going public at large – one thing was clear. A new star was born.

So, hopefully, twenty years from now with the Bond franchise behind his tight little behind . . . (whew . . . pardon us, while we collect what’s left of our thoughts) he will be able to return to the meatier . . . (there we go again.) roles that helped launch his career and be able to collect his long deserved Oscar for some piddling action film directed by a misunderstood auteur. It could happen.

For now, do yourselves the favor of spending a couple of hours and a half in the dark with our future husband . . . just don’t touch him, or drool too loudly or we’ll be forced to jab the stem of our martini glass into your bleeding eyeballs. For James Bond is back, in a truly entertaining outing that left us longing for more. Bless you all!

Directed by Martin Campbell
Written by Neal Purvis, Robert Wade & Paul Haggis
Based on the novel by Ian Fleming

Daniel Craig as James Bond
Eva Green as Vesper Lynd
Mads Mikkelsen as Le Chiffre
Judi Dench as M
Giancarlo Giannini as Mathis
Jeffrey Wright as Felix Leiter
Caterina Murino as Solange
Simon Abkarian as Alex Dimitrios

Cinematography by Phil Meheux
Film Editing by Stuart Baird
Original Music by David Arnold
Title Song – “You Know My Name” sung by Chris Cornell
Costume Design by Lindy Hemming
Production Design by Peter Lamont
Art Direction by Peter Francis, James Hambidge, Steven Lawrence & Dominic Masters
Set Decoration by Simon Wakefield


For Your Consideration - Movie Review

For Your Consideration 2006

There is one reason to run out and see the latest “Mockumentary” from the now legendary Christopher Guest troupe of players. Catherine O’Hara. While many know her face, or might recognize her name, or are one of the small but faithful fans of the former SCTV alum whose mere presence in one of Guest’s flicks always guarantees a good time – here she is given the best role of her career and she shines brilliantly.

For the second time in film history, it is more than likely that an actress will be nominated for an Oscar for portraying an actress who desperately wants to win an Oscar! It happened once before with the divine Dame Maggie Smith actually winning the little bald Gold man for her hilarious turn in the screen adaptation of Neil Simon’s omnibus “California Suite” back in 1978. We would like to feel that the Academy cannot possibly ignore Miss O’Hara’s stellar turn in “For Your Consideration”, but unlikelier things have happened. (We’ll keep our fingers crossed.)

Sadly, the remainder of the film is an uneven hodgepodge of stale jokes and contrived stereotypes that more than often misses the comic mark. Or rather, it fails to match the peerless Miss O’Hara who turns out all the stops in her delicious performance.

Since movies began, filmmakers have been enthralled with examining the treacherous backstory of making movies and the pitfalls of stardom. From such delightful classics as King Vidor’s “Show People”, George Cukor’s “What Price Hollywood?”, Preston Sturges brilliant “Sullivan’s Travels, to the three versions of “A Star is Born” to the Film Noir gothic glory of Billy Wilder’sSunset Blvd.” Famed directors such as Fellini, Godard, Fassbinder and Woody Allen have all cast a jaundiced lens towards the mythic art of moviemaking.

In using the art of filmmaking as a bitter comedy of the foibles of fame and stardom, Christopher Guest follows Blake Edwards in his turgid black comedyS.O.B.” featuring the debut of Julie Andrews’s naked breasts as the ultimate metaphor for the sacrifice actors are required to give to their craft for the cost of a successful film. Already this year, we had the delightfully twisted “Tristram Shandy . . .” courtesy of Michael Winterbottom, backbiting the hand the feeds him to reveal the battle of egos necessary to pull off a major motion picture in the modern age of risky financial endeavors.

The main problem with “For Your Consideration” is that it is simply not that funny. It's pleasant in a notch above sitcom level. It certainly skips along at a brisk pace. But rarely did the smile on our face turn into an out and out laugh. Guest & Co. have always seemed most successful in their attempts at examining niche worlds that most of us would have little previous knowledge of, including the filmmakers themselves. Their “Best in Show” and “A Mighty Wind” were wonderfully comic romps through the less than mainstream worlds of competitive dog shows and 1960s folk singers.

For Your Consideration” at times seems to retread the amateur theatrics that was the domain of their earlier work on “Waiting for Guffman”. And herein lays our problems with their latest work. Just as that earlier film seemed to be at times such an “in-joke” to the actual players, the finished product was simply not as funny as their later successes.

For in examining the worlds of dog shows and folk singing, the players themselves seemed to be taken out of their own vocation enough to flesh out wholly distinct characters that seemed to have walked out of a traveling circus of Diane Arbus portraits. They were larger than life personalities that were curiously grounded in the quirky realism of types found outside the troupe’s normal range.

By lampooning actors who fall prey to their own desires of fame and adoration, where does one draw the line between actor and character? Is Catherine O’Hara the closet diva she portrays in “For Your Consideration”? God, we hope not. For it would not only ruin our enjoyment of her performance, it borders on psychosis.

And more importantly, for this flick to make sense shouldn’t the film within the film be less of a cartoon throwback to bad “B” Republic pics? The very broad comedic portrayal by Guest as a fourth string director butchering an independent film script entitled “Home for Purim” is three skips away from the worst baggy pants comic. Which is our main issue with the film. O’Hara’s work seems grounded in a reality while the rest of the proceedings seem to be occurring in a sequel to Mel Brooks’Silent Movie”. Thankfully, other performers strike the mark alongside the bravura turn by O’Hara.

Parker Posey, who has never been one of our favorites (Although we did enjoy her delightfully hammy turn in this year’s “Superman Returns”) is absolutely spot on as the “serious” actress attempting her best to maintain her craft under the trying circumstances. Playing the lesbian daughter within the troubled “Purim” shoot, she resembles a young Katharine Hepburn in appearance and a young Susan Hayward in overarching earnestness. When the internet rumors begin to appear heralding O’Hara’s chances for an Oscar nomination, Parker attempts to take it in stride until the Awards hooplah seizes her in a flurry of unexpected hubris.

And while their work may not be the subtlest onboard, Jane Lynch and Fred Willard have a wicked gleam in their eyes skewering “Entertainment Tonight” type hosts. Although we venture to guess that this is a testament to their comic brilliance in grounding any character no matter how broadly played. Lynch in particular is a hoot eschewing the aged wooden frozen smile of a Mary Hart type.

And God bless Michael McKean and Bob Balaban for maintaining their equilibrium as the writers of “Home for Purim” who watch hopelessly as their vision is taken away from them, battered about and ultimately whitewashed in order to secure a wider audience once the Oscar buzz starts to overtake the proceedings.

A special nod must also go to Ricky Gervais, that British genius who fits perfectly into the seasoned troupe as the studio executive whose fear of the film being to “Jewish” for popular appeal scores some of the biggest laughs.

But, in the final analysis, this film belongs to Catherine O’Hara. Her final transformation into a Sally Kirkland type who so desperately wants to hold the film equivalent of the Holy Grail, she succumbs to her greatest fears. When the fateful early morning arrives wherein all of Hollywood holds their collective breaths to hear the Oscar nominees, O’Hara is a marvel to watch. We felt as if we were indeed sneaking a peek into the lives of so many actresses whose egos let themselves lose their way down Hollywood Boulevard.

O’Hara and Posey deserve a better film than this for their comic talents. The fact that both of them not only rise above the material but actually manage to compose fully rounded characters, four of them actually is wonderful to behold. We would actually adore it if both actresses names were called out one cold winter morning early next year, and what a fitting tribute to their skill if they were. Bless you all!

Directed by Christopher Guest
Written by Christopher Guest & Eugene Levy

Catherine O’Hara as Marilyn Hack
Harry Shearer as Victor Allan Miller
Parker Posey as Callie Webb
Christopher Guest as Jay Berman
Eugene Levy as Morley Orfkin
Fred Willard as Chuck Porter
Jane Lynch as Cindy Martin
Michael McKean as Lane Iverson
Bob Balaban as Philip Koontz
Ricky Gervais as Martin Gibb
Larry Miller as Syd Finkleman
Ed Begley Jr. as Sandy Lane
Christopher Moynihan as Brian Chubb
John Michael Higgins as Corey Taft
Jim Piddock as Simon Whitset
Jennifer Coolidge as Whitney Taylor Brown
Jordan Black as Lincoln
Paul Dooley as “Paper Badge” Sergeant
John Krasinski as “Paper Badge” Officer
Don Lake as Ben Lilly
Michael Hitchcock as David van Zyverden
Rachael Harris as Mary Pat Hooligan
Sandra Oh as Marketing Person #1
Richard Kind as Marketing Person #2
Craig Bierko as Talk Show Host

Cinematography by Roberto Schaefer
Film Editing by Robert Leighton
Original Music by Christopher Guest & Eugene Levy
Costume Design by Durinda Wood
Production Design by Joseph T. Garrity
Art Direction by Pat Tagliaferro
Set Decoration by Dena Roth