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1 item from 2001

The Independent

7 December 2001 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

Prolific independent auteur Morty Fineman has had quite a run, from 1981's "Festering Destiny" and 1982's "Large Angry Antennae" to 1991's "Supermodel Carnival II: Runway Runaways" and 1993's "Psycho Vet Meets Hercules". In a 37-year career, Fineman has cranked out more than 400 low-budget features and earned the respect of many Hollywood veterans, from Ron Howard to Nick Cassavetes.

Including sequences from such classics as "The Foxy Chocolate Robot" (1976) starring Fred Williamson and glimpses of Fineman's latest, troubled production "Ms. Kevorkian", "The Independent" is -- you may have guessed -- a bunch of baloney. Fineman is fictional, and this mock documentary, distributed by Arrow Releasing, is an affectionate tribute to schlockmeisters who don't know when or how to quit.

Jerry Stiller is perfect casting as the obsessed, sensitive, always-on-the-brink-of-catastrophe Fineman, who tries to stop lenders from seizing all his old films -- lenders who measure the films' worth like so many pounds of potatoes. Reluctantly at first, but soon with genuine camaraderie, his daughter Paloma (Janeane Garofalo) helps in the time of crisis, while his trusty assistant (Max Perlich) continues to endure abuse and work miracles in the gloomy environment of Fineman's sinking business.

Directed by Stephen Kessler and written by Kessler and producer Mike Wilkins, "Independent" frequently includes laudatory comments from (playing themselves) Howard, Cassavetes, Ted Demme, Roger Corman, Karen Black, Peter Bogdanovich and Williamson, while numerous hilarious moments from Fineman's movies (Ben Stiller steals the movie as the lead in the climactic scene of "Whale of a Cop") display a great sense of how filmmaking styles have changed.

Recalling "And God Spoke", one of the best bogus docus about movies, along with fictional Hollywood loser comedies like "Mistress", "Independent" has lots of satirical hilarity and characters one grows fond of, and it ultimately touches on truths about the hucksterism at the heart of showbiz.


Arrow Releasing

Director: Stephen Kessler

Screenwriters: Mike Wilkins, Stephen Kessler

Producer: Mike Wilkins

Executive producer: Jerry Weintraub

Director of photography: Amir Hamed

Production designer: Russell Christian

Editor: Chris Franklin

Costume designer: Yoona Kwak

Music: Ben Vaughn

Casting: Nicole Arbusto, Joy Dickson



Morty Fineman: Jerry Stiller

Paloma Fineman: Janeane Garofalo

Ivan: Max Perlich

Running time -- 85 minutes

MPAA rating: R


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1 item from 2001

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