New Suit (2002)

reviewed by
Karina Montgomery


New Suit
Matinee with Snacks

This film is a perfect example of why the MPAA ban on screeners, ostensibly to combat piracy (and who exactly is black marketing The Station Agent?), is damaging to the little movie. Playing a week long run in a dinky art house to an audience of 5, this little movie is a blistering indictment of the buzz-mad Hollywood machine. You know, the same cannibal machine that contributed to why it was distributed by Trillion Entertainment (5 films in 6 years) with a Photoshopped poster and zero publicity. I am sure Trillion would be thrilled if there was a piracy market for their films. That would mean someone was recognizing their good work! However, something as critical of the Hollywood studio system would have to be released as an independent - what studio would touch it? It's their loss, but distribution-wise, it is ours as well.

New Suit not just an indictment, it's a shrewd satire and in its own right, a great little narrative with great characters, nice plot turns, good performances, and very, very funny stuff. Written by upstart Craig Sherman, it seems to tread old paths in "frustrated writer tries to make it" except how he makes it, and how far, is not at all related to his writing or, ironically, to his personal development. It's a clever twist and a fun ride. I am going to tell you a key plot point in the next paragraph so read on only if you want to know the conceit of the story.

The New Suit is a screenplay that does not exist - Bridges invents it, sort of as a gag on his friends, and the buzz on this mythical project flies out of control, escalating into the biggest lie and deal of recent memory. The moment of deception begins so simply and snowballs so effectively - it seems preposterous, but look at the pre-release press on Gigli and tell me you don't think it's possible. New Suit openly admits to being a modern day Emperor's New Clothes, but it still feels wholly original and it is extremely entertaining. While at first it appears that the invisible pants come off too soon, the amazing thing is how the whole deception recovers and takes on a life of its own.

Even though this story could be told with black and white cutouts for characters, the filmmakers went to the trouble for imbuing Kevin Taylor (Bridges) and Marianne Roxbury (Marisa Coughlan) with depth and interest. Kevin's old school in his heart and in his low tech trappings. While sometimes it is unclear what Marianne's motivation is, she is actually the most consistent character, possibly because she is the most complex.

Director Francois Velle makes good advantage of his locations and his somewhat more seasoned supporting cast, with Dan Hedaya doing that vein popping thing he does so well, and Mark Setlock and Heather Donohue as avaricious young VPs. Paul McCrane seems to be a sharkish, zenlike Ron Howard, in a super departure from his Dr. Romano character from ER.

I can see the headlines now: "Indie filmmakers tilt at the windmills of Hollywood and knock them to the ground." Economical, slick, entertaining, and only 5 people in my audience? Inexcusable. Go see it. Hopefully Craig Sherman will continue on to retain his idealism but still bring us shrewd, enertaining work.

-- ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ These reviews (c) 2003 Karina Montgomery. Please feel free to forward but credit the reviewer in the text. Thanks. You can check out previous reviews at: http://www.cinerina.com and http://ofcs.rottentomatoes.com - the Online Film Critics Society http://www.hsbr.net/reviews/karina/listing.hsbr - Hollywood Stock Exchange Brokerage Resource

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X-RT-RatingText: 4.5/5

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