Tuesday, October 27, 2009

"Hollywoodn't" Reveiw

The film opens like an episode of The Twilight Zone. In tonight's episode, it's past closing at a chic LA restaurant. The nervous waiter attends his last two patrons, a has-been director (David Aaron Freed) and an A-list actress (Lia Johnson) who are discussing a new film project.

As awkward seconds stretch between the characters, the waiter pulls out all the stops to get as much face time as possible. He finally works up the courage to do what all waiters in LA eventually do, pitch a script to captive patrons. The actress is polite and patronizing. The director is uninterested and blatantly condescending. As the young waiter speaks, the he passes nervous and goes straight on to hysterical when he realizes he's bombing a once in a lifetime opportunity. When all the pressure and pretense of Hollywood come to a head, the consequences could be... shocking.

As a film, "Hollywoodn't" was slick in most respects, good quality, great location, nicely done opening and closing credits. Writer/director Jeremy Sklar delivers a generous handful of memorable images, building tension with strong storytelling and expert composition. He seemed, however, just a little too eager to get started with the fancy shots. The film's creepy vibe is well established at the onset, so anything more than basic shots during the initial table conversation became distracting.

The end of this film totally delivers, suspense, fear, uncertainty without being completely random. But in a lot of ways, "Hollywoodn't" the film is very similar its lead character. It's awkward, and a bit of a slow starter. It really felt like the actors needed time to find their characters in the piece. The stilted dialogue attempted to portray the awkwardness of the scene and instead revealed the awkwardness of the actors. But by the time the characters were ready to leave the restaurant, half way into the film, everyone had found their stride nicely, especially the struggling waiter/writer, played by Danny Callaway. Though the credits listed Callaway as "introducing," his was definately the best performance of the film. J.Eddie Martinez also puts on an interesting though brief appearance as the seldome seen busboy.

"Hollywoodn't" captures my favorite thing about Hollywood. Darn near everyone in the country with delusions of grandeur ends up in this city, all the crazies in one place where there's plenty of company. But on the flip side of that, as our waiter in this film says, "It's a sick, twisted town." That's the price of admission, I suppose. But for the characters in this film, what a price!

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