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This documentary was made way back in 1999 after the release of the
book "Glam-o-rama", but before the brilliant movie adaptation of
"American Psycho". It virtually disappeared soon thereafter only to
reappear very recently on Amazon Prime streaming. Its subject Ellis was
reportedly displeased with this documentary, but if that is even true,
he shouldn't really have been. It is NOT necessarily an uncomplimentary
portrait. The fact that it hires young actors (including a then-unknown
Rachel Weicz) to re-enact famous passages from his books (as most of
the movie adaptations except for the godawful "Less than Zero" had not
been released at that time), and even gets several of them to do nude
scenes, may or may not work, but is hardly just an elaborate attempt to
make fun of Ellis. There is one scene at the end with the author and
his friends out on the town in NYC that KIND OF looks like a shallow
clubbing scene out of one of his books, but MOST of this movie is
hardly any obvious kind of "mocking" of the author, and I actually got
the idea that he is in many ways he is very different from the books he
There are only a few talking-head commentators and they are a pretty good mixture of complimentary and somewhat critical. The documentary also presents the now rather ridiculous PC controversy over "American Psycho" and its supposed "misogyny" a lot more sympathetically than a lot of people did before the movie was released or before anyone had any perspective on the excesses of the late 80's.
I never thought Ellis was a GREAT writer and the effusive comparisons to JD Salinger were always pretty overblown, but his first two novels even with their minimalist, surface-level prose really capture the depressing and stark malaise of being young in the 1980's. They are not exactly "fun" to read, and "The Rules of Attraction" with it's multi, but complete indistinguishable, narrators does show the limitations of Ellis' writing. But the terrible extended late 80's anti-drug PSA that is "Less than Zero" shows how deep that book really was by comparison, despite its apparent superficiality, and how clueless adults at the time were in trying to adapt the young author. I don't know how much of the brilliant "American Psycho" movie can be credited to the source novel, but it certainly brought out the satire. I also think the adaptation of "The Informers" is actually both quite good and quite faithful to the book (if certainly not without its flaws).
This documentary suffers from the now limited perspective of being made in 1999, but that doesn't make it unworthy of watching. But it shouldn't be regarded as some kind of joke on its subject.
This film was not only a clarifying element for the writings of the author (i.e. unfiltered, acted out scenes from his novels), but a comic riff on him also. Bret Ellis, the man who writes about naieve, passive people, is ultimately portrayed in reality as having no more depth than any of his characters. Ellis himself is so naieve he doesn't even realize that this GREAT indie film is completely mocking him. Two years after filming it is realeased and Ellis publicly and naievely "disses" it at readings. The weaving of the story scenes around the scenes of his real life are the key to comedy. The subtle "dis" of Ellis' work "American Psycho" by author Jay McInerney is the sum of the theme of this work. If this film makes its way to an artsy small theartre near you, you'll know what I mean. If you are a Bret Ellis fan you'll love the little scenes from his works acted out, the parts in between (i.e. interviews with book reviewers, Jay McInerney, Ellis, American Psycho movie makers etc.), unfortunately, are just a catalyst to mix with the acted out scenes to "dis" Ellis in a naieve, passive way.
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