An ensemble cast telling 10 stories with intertwining characters. One story is about a father and son who are dating the same woman . Another features a woman who long ago gave her baby up for adoption but is now being blackmailed by a documentary filmmaker who claims to know the now-grown child's whereabouts.Written by
The position of the sunglasses in Jude's hands switches between shots as she's laying by the pool talking to Frank McKee. See more »
My God! Oh my God! Oh my God! I didn't see her! I didn't see her!
Oh my God!
Oh my God, I'm so sorry, I didn't see her!
Do you have a cell? Call 911!
Hey, is she all right?
I don't know.
911? Yes, hurry, we need an ambulance quick.
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Multi-Layered Deceptions in LA-Based Ennui Makes for a Smart, Meandering Hodgepodge
Filmmaker Don Roos brings a unique perspective to his films, and this omnibus 2005 film exemplifies his idiosyncratic style quite well. Even though it doesn't work in its entirety, it has a great ensemble cast and some really sharp observations about a loosely connected group of people who have in common a certain disassociation with the inner truths in their lives. In fact, the deceptive nature of the characters is the movie's leitmotif, and Roos crosscuts their interactions with helpful title cards that often explain their inner motivations for their actions.
There are three basic stories that constitute the film, which recalls the multi-layered, somewhat enervated spirit of Robert Altman's "Short Cuts" especially given the LA-based ennui both films portray with accuracy. The first story deals with step-siblings Mamie, who as a teenager, had a one-night stand with her stepbrother Charley. Years later, Mamie is an abortion clinic worker, while Charley, gay and partnered contently with Gil for five years, runs their long-dead parents' last remaining restaurant. Both siblings have their own storyline - Mamie meets Nicky, a grungy filmmaker who wants her to participate in a film about meeting someone from her past. However, she convinces Nicky to make another film entirely about her intermittent lover Javier's massage practice.
The second story revolves around Charley's obsession with the paternity of a son which their lesbian best friends have just conceived. This leads to unexpected revelations that backfire on Charley. The third story focuses on Otis, a closeted teenage drummer who works at Charley's restaurant. Otis meets Jude, a vagabond singer who favors Billy Joel ballads and beds Otis in order to have a place to crash. Once established in the palatial home, she also attaches herself to Otis's divorced father Frank. It all sounds complicated and sometimes feels quite erratic, but Roos makes the film intriguing to watch.
The acting certainly helps. As Mamie, Lisa Kudrow again shows how she can use her somewhat flaky persona in an arresting way that can be funny and heartbreaking. Steve Coogan effectively brings out Charley's neuroses, while Jesse Bradford is convincingly suspect as Nicky. The underutilized Laura Dern doesn't really have much to do as one-half of the lesbian couple (Sarah Clarke is the other half), while Bobby Cannavale gamely brings out the swarthy gamesmanship of Javier. Jason Ritter (the look-alike son of the late John Ritter) plays Otis with the right amount of confusion and anxiety. As the bonhomous Jude, Maggie Gyllenhaal (Jake's sister) gives a shrewd performance that never borders on the obvious, while Tom Arnold surprises with a subtle turn as the comparatively innocent Frank.
The DVD has an alternate commentary track with Roos, Kudrow and cinematographer Clark Mathis, as well as ten deleted scenes of varying quality and three scenes that constitute the lacking gag reel. During the final film's lengthy 128-minute running time, there are scenes that seem to drift with no reason and character motivations that go unexplained. Regardless, the film is definitely worth seeing.
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