Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Naomi Watts, Jennifer Syme, Greg Freitas, Gaye Pope, Blair Mastbaum
Director: Scott Coffey
Genres: Comedy, Drama
Studio: Strand Releasing Release Date: 04/11/2006 Run time: 95 minutes Rating: R
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"I don't know who I am"
M. J Leonard | Silver Lake, Los Angeles, CA United States | 04/15/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Who knew that someone could do so much while driving his or her car? Ellie Parker (the lovely Naomi Watts) has raised multi-tasking to a new level. None of what she does looks remotely safe so I wouldn't recommend you try what she pulls off so adeptly in her whirlwind drive around the hills and studios of Hollywood for auditions. She talks on the cell phone, eats blue ice cream, and the car is her dressing room as she fixes her hair and makeup, and changes into various costumes.
As the mercurial Ellie Parker, Naomi Watts is a real hoot playing her sort of semi-autobiographical self, years before she skyrocketed to fame in David Lynch's MullHolland Drive. Delightfully displaying her comic talents, Watts plays a frustrated actress thrashing around the low end of the Hollywood food chain. Expanded from actor Scott Coffey's short, Ellie Parker features a few days in the life if Ellie as she struggles to define herself in the City of fame and dreams.
We first meet her as she's on her way to audition for a Southern Bell and she's channeling her inner Scarlett for a bored young director named Smash. Of course the audition is just one of a number that morning. Soon after it's completed she jumps into her Honda and drives to the next tryout, singing along to Blondie whilst rehearsing a New Jersey junkie-whore accent.
Ellie's personal life is also rather unstable. She's unsure whether she wants to stay with her hunky loser musician boyfriend (Mark Pellegrino). When she meets cute Chris (Coffey), an appealing but flighty alleged cinematographer after a car accident, she indulges in an intermittent flirtation with him. She's also crying on the shoulder of cynical actress pal Sam (Rebecca Rigg) who's both savvier and less principled than her friend - she makes up childhood traumas for their method-acting class.
The movie was obviously a labor of love the Ms. Watts and what you see here is probably what you get. She's bawdy, irreverent, and sometimes crude, and also terribly insecure about her talent as an actress. The irony is that she is talented - her track record has since proved it - but the movie's point is that she doesn't yet realize it and she ultimately fails to believe in herself. Effectively skewering the Hollywood scene, Ellie Parker is about an industry where everyone is looking for his or her ten minutes of fame and where no one really knows who he or she is, and there's a real sense of biding time for the big role you haven't yet read for.
At ninety minutes the original conceit of the movie tends to wear a bit thin and you can feel the original short slowly being stretched to breaking point, but the film remains surprisingly enjoyable. The industry in-jokes are wicked and mordent and Ellie's emotional exhaustion is fully felt as she wonders whether to just throw in the towel and quit acting for good.
Elle Parker ultimately stands as definitive evidence of Watts' formidable comic and dramatic talent and her uncanny ability to transform herself - she reveals a totally unglamorous and vulnerable side that few other A-list actresses would ever allow us to see. At the same time she's imparting insight into the very real struggle of an actor's dedication and "process." In this respect, the film is probably required viewing for just about every other struggling actor in Hollywood. Mike Leonard April 06.
A Real L.A. Story
Suzanne Glenn | California | 11/28/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"If you love L.A., you should love this film. I love "L.A. genre" films...films that are as much about Los Angeles, the place, as about any character in the film, and this is one. And it's awfully funny."
Cool look inside the Hollyweird Wannabee Society
Thomas Glebe | Pittsburgh, PA United States | 07/21/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"First off, to any potential buyers who have not already caught this on cable or sundance channel, note that this is not a real "film," as it is shot on video, and does not incorporate newer technology which can make video look very similar to actual filmstock. This is a video, and has a videotape quality (though good in quality), not a film. Still, perhaps it was the maker's intentions (or limited budget), and I can't really fault this work for it's non-filmic, direct to video "look."
Films (or feature length fictional video productions like this) about those out in LaLaLand (LA) trying to "make it" in the "industry," have always been around, basically from "Sunset Boulevard" to present. "The Player" comes to mind, as well as others, but in the "video" mode, I can only think of another more recent "film" as good as this, and that would be "Camp Hollywood," which deals with a roach motel just above Hollywood Blvd. If you liked "Ellie Parker" you will love "Camp Hollywood" and vica versa. What makes "Ellie Parker" special however can be summed up in two words. Naomi Watts.
Unlike "Camp Hollywood," this film concentrates on the main character first and foremost, and includes a few key supporting roles instead of being an overall, numerous character essay on the struggle for fame and fortune out in Dreamland. While the supporting characters add a lot here, none come close to Naomi's performance. Given, she is the main character, and title of this work, but sprinkled throughout are keen insights into this whole LA wannabee subculture. Having lived it myself for a decade and a half, but behind the camera and at my keyboard, so much of this touches home.
"Ellie" (Naomi) is a beautiful, young actress with a few credits to her name and a lower-class agent, and with a lot of unrecognized, unrewarded talent. As such, she kind of represents an "everywoman" of those 1000's like her, past, present, and future, who come to LA with dreams of making it big. Trouble is, as I myself found out in tinseltown, "talent" is pretty low on qualifications of "making it" out there. "Ellie" can obviously act, and in a non-method manner, but she is torn by her own self belief and esteem, is not getting many "call-backs," is losing hope, and has a jerk as a boyfriend/ex-boyfriend, and is surrounded by typical LA wannabees. All trying to be what they are not.
Trouble is, we see from the beginning that "Ellie" really does have some amazing acting gifts, and her expertly playing various role characters throughout only add to our immediate sympathy and empathy with her. But she is frustrated every step along the way. Naomi Watts really does a great job, in all her various exploits, but despite it all, in the end, after meaningless affairs, drug/alcohol Hollywood parties, a lame agent, and a therapist she refers to as "the rapist," Ellie makes progressively better decisions along the way, leading to a very satisfying end.
Though slow at times, there are also frantic moments, and it's a shame this couldn't have been filmed, not videotaped. I can relate to this on a personal level, but I'm sure a few million who've ever tried to get anywhere in the "biz" out west (or back east) but failed, for whatever reasons (and there are so many), will immediately find a connection here. This is a work which lends itself to repeated viewings, just to catch all the nuances and talents of Naomi. She is at her best here, and while there are technical and other elements which detract from this flick, overall, it's a very good look into the life of one poor soul as she attempts to "make it" in the City of Angels (and lost souls).
The final, ending shot is perfect and brought back a lot of memories, as a long time ago, it was my own final vision upon my own escape from LA. Though with faults, this is a must-rent at least (or catch on cable), and any Naomi fan worth their salt will want to own this. A rare and pretty damn good look into the soft underbelly of the "promise" and "lies" and "hardships/impossibilities" of Hollywoodland. And with plenty of LA sights and sounds and characters (and who in LA ISN'T ONE?), which may also appeal to anyone who's ever lived there but just had to leave, for one reason or millions.
Naomi Watts is obviously a great actress, based upon this and some of her other films, and I was only left with the ironic and satirical insight that there are probably 1000's of other wannabee Ellies out there, right now, right there, in the land of fruits and nuts who feel they are just as much an actress and talent as Naomi, if they could only get that big break. And you know, they're all right..."
Refreshing Perspective of Acting
Ryan Rogers | Memphis, TN | 10/14/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Ellie Parker is an interesting movie to watch. It's not an incredibly good one, but it is effective. The handheld looks adds authenticity and realism to it, but some of the movie's events are less than real.
Naomi Watts and Scott Coffey met on the set of Danid Lynch's Mulholland Drive and a friendship and short film sprung from this encounter.
The short film, Ellie Parker, grew into this film today.
For what it's worth, I did enjoy it. Naomi Watts gives a great performance and it has the right amount of quirkiness to keep you interested.
The DVD features a commentary from director Scott Coffey, a behind the scenes featurette, and plenty of deleted scenes.
Although this isn't a film I would recommend, it's at least worth a good look."