Several MIT students drop out of school to make a movie and quickly realize that no one will ever take them seriously without a big name star, so they decide to fool everybody by using celebrity impersonators.
Now this is what I call an unusual movie. It's a mockumentary about the filming of a movie about a guy's problematic romance following an ill-advised religious conversion, which in turn leads to more problematic romances, which in turn leads to problematic movie-making. Did I lose you already? And I haven't even gotten to the part where they make a *reality show* about the documentary about the movie about the guy...
So let's see... it's a love story, but it's also a satire of filmmaking, and it's also a story about one man's obsession with religion, and it's also the story of a nerd trying to be a hotshot director. In all of these plots we get the recurring theme: It's generally a bad idea to try to be something you're not.
Sure, that's an old theme. But what I like about this film is the creative way everything is told (in a documentary about a movie about a guy). The different layers of narrative are like the different layers of false appearances we all manufacture in life. If this sort of convoluted, picture-within-a-picture entertains you & piques your philosophical interest, then you'll be thrilled you stumbled on this gem.
Throw in a clueless producer, a desperate grunt girl, a narcissistic prettyboy actor, a porn star, an insane script editor who looks like something out of the Godfather, and you've got some wacky times ahead. It's not what I'd call a madcap laugh riot; instead the humor is low key, drawing on ridiculous situations that require no punchline. I got big laughs out of the reality show scene where the girl is all too eager to do nudity, all the team meeting scenes where the director's vision is bastardized before his eyes & the Hollywood poser party scene... which brings me to my favorite character "Alex" (Carson Aune) the Hollywood prettyboy who uses his baby blue eyes to make up for his total lack of class, if not lack of brains.
Amanda Kimmel (from "Survivor") makes a funny appearance as herself as does Courtney Gains (the creepy kid Malachai from the 80s cult "Children of the Corn"). Another performance that had me lolling was Eric Scott Cooper as the neurotic set designer. All the supporting roles were pretty funny. This is the kind of film where the main characters play the rational ones while the peripheral characters create the bizarreness.
And of course there's the strangeness that ensues whenever fiction & reality intersect. In that respect, "Cinema Salvation" can be considered alongside "Stranger than Fiction" (2006) about a man who realizes his life is being narrated as it happens, "Circus Maximus" (2010) about a screenwriter whose bizarre ideas begin to infect his real life, and the mindblowing "Synecdoche, NY" about a man who attempts to write a play about his own life as it's happening.
Elements of this film reminded me of "The Office" as well as Christopher Guest's "For Your Consideration". Another similar gem that skewers the entertainment industry is "The TV Set". If you've seen/enjoyed any of the films I've mentioned, don't hesitate to check out "Cinema Salvation".
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