Hollywood is one crazy place and Anthony Hopkins' variation on David Lynch's MULHOLLAND DR. (2001) wallows in it with the sort of portentous persistence usually associated with self-important film-school graduates.
Hopkins' slippery, surreal narrative weaves together multiple intersecting stories whose common thread is screenwriter Felix Bonhoeffer (Hopkins). Bonhoeffer and his flighty friend Tracy (Lisa Pepper) survive a harrowing ordeal on a jam-packed highway, in which a man with a gun throws himself against Felix's window howling, "We've lost the plot!" Tracy later sees herself in a television news report on the incident, and meets with her friend Bette Lustig (Fionnula Flanagan) in an isolated roadside diner while Felix tries to chat up Gina (Stella Arroyave, Hopkins' wife and the film's producer) in the parking lot of a bar while her overprotective boss (Michael Clarke Duncan) hovers menacingly. A pair of flashy thugs (Christian Slater, Jeffrey Tambor) murder him and later invade and terrorize the bar where Bette and Tracy are being served by friendly waitress Bonnie (S. Epatha Merkerson). But wait — the diner is actually the set of nutty director Gavin's (Gavin Grazer) new movie, and Felix is called in for emergency rewrites when actor Matt Dobbs (Slater) dies after shooting the diner scene. The film's producer (John Turturro) is called in, and Felix has a baffling, high-volume conversation with him on a golf course while the producer simultaneously takes calls about making "Manhunter 4: Blue Dragon" on a Bluetooth whose cord has been severed. Felix also crosses paths with a slatternly Dolly Parton look-alike named "Dolly Parton Lookalike," and with Kevin McCarthy, who seems not to realize that he's famous for having starred in some very famous science-fiction movie. Is Felix dead and reliving a jumbled nightmare of his life? Is he mad and no longer able to tell fact from fiction? Or perhaps it's all one colossal in-joke about the chaos of trying to make a serious film amidst personal crises, on-set catastrophes and executive wheeling and dealing.
If not exactly dull, Hopkins' stream-of-consciousness rant is nonetheless self-indulgent and crammed with bits of business that never add up to anything much. The high-powered cast is a testament to the high regard in which Hopkins is held by his peers, but the project feels like one huge home movie crammed with the detritus of a life made by movies. As Gertrude Stein said of Oakland, California: "There is no there there." leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh