Sunday, January 23, 2005

Ellie Parker

★ ★ I’ve always suspected that some movies make Sundance mainly because a famous Hollywood personality is involved. If said star chooses to make a low-budget non-commercial film, it warrants a free pass to the big dance based on risk-taking and “independent spirit.”

So it is with Ellie Parker, a movie produced by and starring Naomi Watts (and directed by actor Scott Coffey) about the travails of a young actress searching for her identity in L.A.’s shallow and artificial cultural wasteland. It is clear that it was made for industry insiders, who saw in it a painful mirror to their world. The rest of us enjoyed a few funny moments in a movie that had no apparent beginning, middle or end, no discernible plot, plenty of conflict but no resolution. I’m sure there was a point in all that depressing futility. To make it worse, it was shot on a Sony HD cam, so the quality was maybe a tad better than my home movies.

Ellie Parker would be useful if one were trying to thin the herd of aspiring actresses. Maybe they should show it in high schools, kind of like Reefer Madness 50 years ago.

By the way, Chevy Chase has a small and rather cryptic role as an agent. (The audience wasn’t sure if he was trying to be serious or comedic.) I love Chevy Chase, but unlike his old SNL partner Dan Akroyd, he should stick to comedies. He gives a really dreadful performance. But he was refreshingly funny at the Sundance Q&A.

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