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Daisy von Scherler Mayer
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Young Augusten Burroughs absorbs experiences that could make for a shocking memoir: the son of an alcoholic father and an unstable mother, he's handed off to his mother's therapist, Dr. Finch, and spends his adolescent years as a member of Finch's bizarre extended family.
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In 1909, when young Paiute Indian Willie Boy returns to his California reservation to be with Lola, whose father disapproves of him, a killing in self defense takes place, triggering a massive man hunt for Willie.
Celebrity couple Joe and Sally Therrian are going through yet another rough stage in their six-year marriage: while Joe's novels have been climbing higher and higher on the best-seller lists, Sally's film career has been steadily sinking into oblivion. Joe's been given the rights to cast and direct the screenplay of his latest book, but rather than resurrect Sally's career by casting her in the lead role, he's given it to Sally's rival, Skye Davidson. Even worse, he's invited Skye to their anniversary bash. Will the marriage, or anything else for that matter, survive the party? Written by
Jean-Marc Rocher <email@example.com>
Wonderful ensemble improvisational acting, and a digital video Hollywood landmark production.
Cloying at times but very compelling and all-but-unpredictable, 'Anniversary' surprises with its power and brutal candor, especially when one tries to discern the autobiographical truths. Saw it last at Disney company screening in NYC when I had no idea what I was about to see or who had created it. Amazed at end to discover in credits that co-stars Cumming and Leigh had written and directed the film.
Was especially struck by the performances of Jennifer Beals--whom I did not recognize--and Phoebe Cates, whose brilliance in one climactic scene w/ Leigh is startling. Impressed at heavyweights in cast like Kline, Paltrow and Cumming. Delighted to see John C. Reilly again (but where was buddy Philip Seymour Hoffman?) Newcomer Mina Badie was the most striking "rookie" in cast (but one whose name, phonetically, rivals that of "Snidely Whiplash.")
The technical miracle here came when I realized--only after screening and upon reading production notes--that the "film" was actually shot on digital video. I defy any non-pro viewer to recognize the difference. The success of the remarkably soft film-like cinematography here by veteran John Bailey may accelerate Hollywood's embrace of much cheaper, quicker video production. It's unintrusive effect is dazzling here.
Biggest flaw here is lack of substantial "story" and reliance on lengthy Ecstacy scene and theme. The politically incorrect happy-drug message here will hurt the movie with mainstream critics. This despite fact that plot does eventually include a moralistic, anti-drug hard-drug lesson in its somewhat predictable conclusion.
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