Director Adam Watstein's exercise in extreme improvisation follows seven characters as they navigate the shark-infested waters of a Hollywood dinner party. Two years ago, New York filmmakers Jason and Catherine Grant (Joe Mellis, Melanie Chapman) sold their first film, Sundance hit "Jackson's Collision"; smooth-talking producer Charlie Baker (Kevin Chamberlin) immediately optioned their follow-up project. Charlie, who's spent his professional life in the shadow of his father, a much-loved and far more successful producer, is best known for having produced the cheesy "Replicant" and "Replicant 2"; two years after he took the option on their script, he's finally persuaded the Grants to move to Los Angeles. They've just bought a house in Los Angeles' funky Silverlake neighborhood and are hosting their first dinner party. The guest list includes Charlie, whom Catherine has grown to despise; his assistant, Kim (Kit Pongetti); ruthlessly ambitious actress Blake Barker (Nancy Bell), whom Charlie once fired from a sitcom; and Catherine's new friend Keith (James Tupper), an actor who's ready to give up and go back to Ohio to teach drama. Unbeknownst to Catherine, he also used to be Blake's boyfriend. The sniping and social maneuvering begin immediately, lubricated by the martinis Jason keeps pressing into his guests' hands. The late arrival of Blake's current boyfriend, self-important action-movie star Sam Ransom (Michael James Reed), is the spark that sets off a firestorm of recriminations and bitter backbiting. Credit where it's due: The film's performances are uniformly strong and remarkably coherent, given the conditions under which they were delivered. The actors shot for eight hours straight in a fully lit and set-decorated house, each individually miked and followed by his or her own personal camera operator (plus a floater who filled in wherever needed). There was no script; by the time they got to the set, each actor had developed and internalized an extensive character history; Watstein established certain existing relationships (actors playing characters who met for the first time at the party never met before arriving on location) and provided a predetermined set of situations. But frankly, neither the characters nor their moral dilemmas are particularly fresh or insightful; anyone who's interested in the topography of Hollywood sleaziness has already been over this ground.
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- Released: 2005
- Rating: NR
- Review: Director Adam Watstein's exercise in extreme improvisation follows seven characters as they navigate the shark-infested waters of a Hollywood dinner party. Two years ago, New York filmmakers Jason and Catherine Grant (Joe Mellis, Melanie Chapman) sold thei… (more)