Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|The Anniversary Party|
Actors: Jennifer Jason Leigh, Alan Cumming
Genres: Comedy, Drama
Studio: Warner Home Video Release Date: 05/10/2005 Run time: 95 minutes Rating: R
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Reviewer | 09/05/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This film pulls back the curtain to reveal a glimpse of what "celebrity" means when the cameras aren't rolling and the stage is dark. What begins as a celebration of sorts becomes a character study that examines the lifestyle of the self-absorbed and those driven by ego, and we get to see the people behind the "fame." And while on one hand "The Anniversary Party," written and directed by Alan Cumming and Jennifer Jason Leigh, appears at first to be the kind of party you could find at anyone's house at any time in any place, subtle differences begin to surface that separates it from what could be considered the "norm." Because beyond certain corporate similarities, the entertainment industry is quite unlike any other, and that goes especially for the people who inhabit it. Sure, actors, writers, directors, etc. are people, just like anyone else, but their particular perceptions and priorities necessarily shift them into a unique position within the landscape of the human condition, wherein they exist amongst their own and for the most part play the game by their own rules. This is a generalization, of course; not every actor or artist lives in the style depicted in this film, but many do. In the final analysis, Hollywood is not called "La-La Land" for no reason, and Cumming and Leigh know it. Welcome to a world in which anything is acceptable, anything goes, and usually does.Writer/director Joe Therrian (Cumming) and actress Sally Nash (Leigh) have prepared a party to celebrate their six years together; not that they have actually been "together" the entire time, but according to the actor/artist math, it's close enough. Close friends and associates have been invited to share whatever this is with them, as well as a couple of neighbors, Monica and Ryan Rose (Mina Badie, Denis O'Hare), who have certain "issues" with Joe and Sally. And, much to the chagrin of the "aging" Sally, whose career seems to be on the wane, Joe has invited the hot young up-and-comer in town, Skye Davidson (Gwyneth Paltrow) to the party. As the evening wears on into the early morning hours, true feelings are gradually revealed amid a game of charades (rather, a "production" of charades; these people are forever "on"), as well as the sharing of a certain "product" given as a present to Joe and Sally by Skye. And so, what began as a celebration, in the cold, hard light of morning just may be remembered as something entirely different. Welcome to the wonderful world of show biz.The daughter of actor Vic Morrow, Jennifer Jason Leigh was born into the business, so to speak; Alan Cumming, on the other hand will have to come up with his own excuse. But they have collaborated (perhaps "conspired" would be more accurate) to bring to the screen an interesting, thought provoking story that for all intents and purposes seems, at least, as if it could be a composite of actual experiences and people they have known. Which means they've succeeded in delivering a film that has the decided flavor of reality about it, and for the most part it's extremely engaging, and often riveting drama. it may be a film that many will have trouble connecting with, though, if only because it is bound to fall outside the realm of personal experience for them. Most of the issues in this story are simply unfamiliar territory to the greater part of the world's population, with the exception of those dealing with the more universal themes, like the appreciation of a child's song, or the irritation of the perpetual barking of a neighbor's dog. What really sells the project, though, and maintains interest, is the excellent ensemble cast the filmmakers have assembled here, portraying an inordinate number of characters driven by look-at-me! egos, yet each presented within their own unique perspectives and contexts. At the center of the fray, of course, is Cumming and Leigh, each of whom do a solid job of anchoring the myriad situations and scenarios generated through, by and around them. Leigh successfully conveys a sense of insecurity consistent with Sally's current status, and Cumming does a good job of making Joe quite unlikable, affecting as he does the look, attitude and personality born of an overblown and bloated ego. it's a portrayal that effectively points up the absolute boorishness that can be found within this community.Paltrow, meanwhile, perfectly captures the essence of the shallow and relatively clueless ingenue, the vast majority of whom become a flavor of the week before disappearing into the obscurity of Hollywood's human "outbox." While Phoebe Cates, as former actress Sophia Gold, represents the opposite end of the spectrum, a young woman perfectly content with her current role of wife and mother. And Kevin Kline is convincing as her husband, actor Cal Gold, who though successful is still visited with insecurities and doubt; and his performance is one of the highlights of the film.Also turning in performances that stand out from the rest are Mina Badie (Leigh's real life half-sister) as the neighbor who comes to the party offering conciliatory overtures toward a more "neighborly" relationship; John C. Reilly, as Mac Forsyth, a veteran director struggling with his latest project (the star of which just happens to be Sally Nash); and Peter Sellers look alike Michael Panes, as Sally's talented friend, Levi. Rounding out the exceptional cast are Jane Adams (Clair), John Benjamin Hickey (Jerry), Parker Posey (Judy), Jennifer Beals (Gina), Matt Malloy (Sanford) and Owen Kline and Greta Kline (Kevin and Phoebe's real life children, as Jack and Evie Gold). A film that is more interesting than entertaining, "The Anniversary Party" nevertheless offers the viewer a chance to vicariously explore and experience Tinsel Town from the dark side of the curtain; some will find it exciting, while others will deem it decidedly unglamorous. Either way, Cumming and Leigh are to be commended for making it "real." It's the magic of the movies."
aykutc | NJ, USA | 06/03/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Anniversary Part is written and directed by both Alan Cumming and Jennifer Jason Leigh. This movie looks at 24 hours in the life of a couple (Cumming, Leigh) who have been separated for a year, but come back together in time for their Sixth Anniversary Party which goes awry when one of the gifts leads the party guests to an adult-oriented version of "Truth and Dare"... In addition to Leigh and Cummings whom also star, the cast includes Jennifer Beals, Phoebe Cates, Kevin Kline, Gwyneth Paltrow, Parker Posey and John C. Reilly. One of the interesting notes about the film is that it is filmed in digital video. For those who wants to see a strong cast in a different kind of filmmaking."
One of the best of the year, so far.
a-k-fox | San Jose, CA United States | 06/06/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Starring, co-written, and co-directed by Jennifer Jason Leigh. Although Jennifer has a tendency in the past decade to consistently pick dark subject matter, I am pleased to see that she has grabbed a-hold of some power in the independent film world. This is one of those small budget films that is almost entirely shot in one solitary location, which means that it's merit stands upon it's character development and dialogue. And to my surprise this film is about an appetizer and drinks evening of close friends party - booze, appetizers, charades, swimming, etc. etc. Some of the most enjoyable dialogue is because it seems to have an unedited genuiness. It is nice to see certain familiar acting faces - Jennifer Beals (forever remembered in FLASHDANCE), Phoebe Cates (her only memorable film being FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGHT) acting opposite her real-life husband Kevin Kline, and big Oscar winning star Gwenyth Paltrow making a supportive appearance (good for her, quality over big budget.)"
lady detective | east coat | 07/16/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I saw Anniversary Party yesterday and was pleasantly intrigued, and never bored through its entirety. Alan Cumming and Jennifer Jason Leigh play their parts as the perpetually problematic Hollywood couple incredibly well, and it was refreshing to see Phoebe Cates on the screen again. Playing charictures of themselves, or charictures of some aspect of themselves, this film relished as it played inbetween the lines of how much of this is real, and are we just playing a part here dynamics.Driven delightfully by dialogue and occasionally over the top emotional scenes, the movie was a lot like dropping into an interesting party and watching everyone from the corner. Although it was, in a lot of ways, about Hollywood, it had the feel of a small film, devoid of Hollywood's plasticine permeations.It's not for everybody, but if you're a fan of Walt Stillman or other dialogue driven films, see it."