L.a. Twister

on August 13, 2004 by Kim Williamson
Making a sufficiently frequent appearance on the production map if not on the distribution roster to count as a subgenre of independent film is the "trials and tribulations of trying to make a first movie in Hollywood" variety. One of the latest comes from Berlin-bred director Sven Pape (an editor on James Cameron's "Ghosts of the Abyss") and neophyte scripter Geoffrey Saville-Read. The personal story on which they hang their making-a tale, though somewhat common, shows promise: On separating from his wife, Ethan (Tony Daly, credited as Preppy Cute Guy #2 in 2000's "Playing Mona Lisa") joins longtime best friend Lenny (Zach Ward, now all grown up from his appearance as the redheaded bully Scut Farkus in 1983's "A Christmas Story") in making a movie.

Well, trying to make a movie. The we're-better-than-this and this-cruel-town drolleries that follow are pretty much nothing new, and the satirical bits that try to be unique, like Zach agreeing to sleep with a hugely overweight casting director (Wendy Worthington) in order to get a plum part, are little more than foofaraw. The dramatics over Ethan's continuing love for his wife devolve from moderately moving to melodramatic by feature's end.

The real pluses here are the players. Both Daly and Ward turn in fine performances, as does Lenny's sometime girlfriend, played by TV actress Jennifer Aspen, whose perky charm instantly catches one's attention on the bigscreen. Undercutting their efforts and the movie's believability are the on-set hijinks strangely included at the end of certain scenes. Starring Zack Ward, Tony Daly and Jennifer Aspen. Directed by Sven Pape. Written by Geoffrey Saville-Read. Produced by Anthony Stoppiello, Catherine Stroud and Lisa London. An Indican release. Comedy/drama. Unrated. Running time: 91 min
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