Thursday, April 20, 2006

Why Rent the DVD when I live it for free?

I recently watched Scott Coffey's exploration of the world of Los Angeles' actors, Ellie Parker. There's a game most Los Angelinos play when they watch movies - as most are inevitably shot in LA. They play the location game. And even in the worst of movies, calling locations can prove at least decent fun and make a bad situation that much better. The opposite works for Coffey's film. Anyone from LA has had more than their share of wannabe actors. They wait on us at restaurants. They answer our phone calls at receptionist desks. The glare at us in clothing shops. They step in line before us at bars when we've been waiting for a considerable amount of time.

Now Coffey, an actor himself - a fact which is painfully apparent from the trite camera work and under-developed, unbelievable minor characters of the film - expects us to sympathize with this world as his 1 chip DV camera follows one seemingly common actress through a particularly harrowing period of her life. But the whole thing plays out so tediously because of Coffey's directorial ineptness. Not a shred of humanity can be gleaned from the cardboard script Coffey forged over the span of 5 years. As existential as Watts tries to be, she cannot transcend vapid script. The vacuousness traditionally (and not unjustly) attributed to actors is ever present without any empathetic realism that might have redeemed it (or, at the very least made it bearable). Instead, the scene which was the initial short from which the film was extended, the only redeemable moment in the film finds Ellie barreling down some random LA Freeway, changing her clothes, slipping from a bleary-eyed fight with her boyfriend into a part which requires her to shout in a Brooklyn accent, "I sucked his cock." In another humorous moment, we are treated to a blissful car ride while Ellie sucks down a blue cotton candy ice cream cone from Baskin Robbins. In the following scene, a heartbroken Ellie vomits up the blue bile which smears her face for the following 10 minutes. These are the little pleasantries that the film hopes will entertain viewers for the feature running time. And though they are rather amusing, they do not sustain this dud of a film. Watts is competent, but the film, however, is anything but.


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