Tag Archives: Peter Bogdanovich

Lick the Star (1998, Sofia Coppola)

The opening narration of Lick the Star, which isn’t from the same character as the end narration, explains the ground situation. Ostensible protagonist Christina Turley has just returned to school after her father accidentally ran over her foot. So she’s on crutches. She worries her group of friends has ostracized her for her absence. Good news, they haven’t. Bad news, Turley and her friends are the seventh grade bad girl bully clique.

Audrey Kelly plays the leader, who loves V.C. Andrews books (which almost feels like writers Stephanie Hayman and director Coppola are stereotyping), wears make-up, smokes, gets objectified most by the little boys. And, the age thing is one of the short’s biggest visual problems. Kelly and her crew look older than the middle schoolers they’re bullying. It filmed on location at a middle school, which probably no doubt accounts for some of the awful acting–though given Peter Bogdanovich is terrible in his cameo, amateur actors don’t account for all the acting problems–and the girls are bullying little kids.

Coppola and Hayman move away from Turley as protagonist and de facto give it to Kelly. The short becomes fixated on her glamour, then her cruelty, then her abuse (from the male classmates). She’s got a plan though (straight from V.C. Andrews). Poison the boys with arsenic.

The short only runs thirteen minutes and Coppola is more concerned with montage sequences set to (some good, some bad) indie rock. It’s not diegetic and doesn’t seem like anything the characters would like, so it causes a disconnect. The cast’s painful delivery of the expository dialogue or the mood-breaking montages. Pretty soon, the short becomes a toss-up of what you don’t want to sit through more.

Coppola’s composition is good. Her direction of the cast is awful. The short initially promises some kind of insight into the tween angst, then gets distracted from it (losing protagonist Turley almost entirely by the three-quarter mark), then brings her back to passively witness the finale. Coppola doesn’t even bother trying to straight-face that finish, cutting away from Turley as soon as she can.

Decent black and white photography from Lance Acord.

Lick the Star is thirteen minutes of mediocre disappointments.

1/3Not Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Sofia Coppola; written by Stephanie Hayman and Coppola; director of photography, Lance Acord; edited by Eric Zumbrunnen; produced by Coppola, Andrew Durham, and Christopher Neil.

Starring Christina Turley (Kate), Audrey Kelly (Chloe), Julia Vanderham (Rebecca), Lindsy Drummer (Sara), Rachael Vanni (Wendy), and Peter Bogdanovich (Principal).


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The Definition of Insanity (2004, Robert Margolis and Frank Matter)

I’m not sure when everyone in New York being an actor became general knowledge, but The Definition of Insanity might be the first film I’ve seen to explore it… or pretend to explore it.

But why I say pretend to explore it is because the film’s got some major problems. It’s really amusing for a while, as Robert Margolis’s insanely optimistic non-working working actor goes through his days, but once the viewer has to question the content, it all falls apart. It’s never clear why someone would make a documentary (the film’s framed as a documentary team following Margolis around) about him, it’s never clear how he and his wife afford an apartment in Manhattan. But it really falls apart when it’s clear Margolis’s protagonist isn’t an inventive liar. He’s just full of it, constantly lying to his wife, family, friends… the lying could be funny, but it’s not written funny. Instead, he’s a jerk.

Worst is the conclusion. Kelli Barnett, as his wife, betrays him and ruins his life and chance at a career. She’s reduced to a villain–though the film does try some rehabilitation to her image at the end–just as Margolis’s protagonist starts exploitatively romancing a recovering mental patient.

The film really overstays its welcome–it runs a watching-checking eighty minutes–but it’s very well-acted overall. Frank Krias, Derek Johnson, pretty much everyone in it but Amanda Kay make it work.

It’s shocking it hasn’t gotten Margolis (and Barnett) more mainstream attention.

1.5/4★½

CREDITS

Written, produced, directed and edited by Robert Margolis and Frank Matter; director of photography, Matter; music by Paula Atherton and Amy Fairchild; released by Dirt Road Films.

Starring Robert Margolis (Robert), Kelli Barnett (Sally), Frank Krias (Frank), Derek Johnson (Derek), Amanda Kay (Kate), Peter Bogdanovich (Peter Bogdanovich), Dylan Margolis (Dylan), David Maquiling (Anthology Manager), Jonas Mekas (Dr. Mekas), John Greiner (The Playwright) and Dawn Marie Anderson (Dawn).


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