Definitely Not Holllywood

Definitely Not Hollywood: Dark Comedy Edition Volume
by Chris Cooke

Short films are a favorite of independent moviemakers,
partly because of obvious budget and manpower concerns, but also
because they allow for a certain freedom unavailable in a longer
format. Anyone itching for some offbeat shorts should check out
Atom Films’ collection Definitely Not Hollywood: Dark Comedy
Edition Volume 1.

In Scott Hudson’s Pact, a couple, having
come to a drastic decision, has difficulty carrying it out. The
result: dark slapstick at its finest. In Big Canyon, David
Agosto tests the loyalty and perseverance of a con artist couple,
who run into trouble selling phony phone cards from their wheelchairs.
Alexander Rose’s mini-short Bill vs. The City shows
us, through the eyes of a stepson, a man who, in his effort to chat
up a cabby, tries to single-handedly make up for all the world’s
socioeconomic inequality.

The collection starts and ends with its finest, most
neurotic moments: the twin bookends of Grant Heslov’s Waiting
for Woody
and Jonah Kaplan’s Stalker Guilt Syndrome.
Struggling actor Heslov tries in vain to cope with his inadequacies
as a husband, until an audition with his Hollywood idol promises
to shoot his career to new heights. Kaplan shows another side of
the twisted, insecure male mind: a man discovers that the woman
he’s been ogling on the train is walking along the same route,
a few paces ahead. His interior monologue-can he claim to
not be stalking her, simply because he’s headed for his girlfriend’s
apartment-hits home right from the start and never lets up.

It’s always refreshing to see a film finish at
a length appropriate to the subject matter, rather than meandering
aimlessly just to make it to the 90-minute mark. Clocking in at
under 80 minutes, there’s never a dull moment in Definitely
Not Hollywood.

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The Heck With Hollywood
by Anna Mitschele

Wanna make a movie? Watch this first. The Heck
with Hollywood
is a documentary about three first-time independent
moviemakers and the trials and tribulations of making a film and
getting it distributed-all just to make a buck or two…or
none at all.

Interlacing interviews with the directors and independent
film distribution companies, you get to see the dream and the reality,
side by side. All the directors hope to be the next Spike Lee or
Coen Brothers-their mugs on Newsweek, their bank accounts
full again-and it is made clear how slim their chances really
are. To be successful you need to be very clever; at least as far
as this film shows, many of them aren’t.

In one scene, a hopeful director pulls up to his own
premiere in his dingy, rusted car, several windows taped shut with
plastic tarp, to be met by photographers, reporters and cameras.
He steps out-his suit tacky and ill-fitting-and then
hurries off to get the projector ready. It is a sharp contrast to
the glamour and clean glitz of Hollywood.

This film was anything but a Hollywood story! The
documentary stated at the end what had eventually happened to the
three films. Sadly, it was very little. The amazing part being that,
even after all the horror stories, each of the directors profiled
is still at it-they were each giving it a second try. And
who know, maybe one of them will be the next Spike Lee. Depressingly
honest, The Heck with Hollywood captures the truth of independent
moviemaking in a grin-and-bare-it way that was great to watch.

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Chick Movie
by Chris Cooke

Barbie dolls always seem to get the worst of it. They’re
criticized by feminists who, with good reason, argue that they set
an unattainable body image goal. On a more personal scale, they
are attacked mercilessly by the hordes of mean older brothers all
across the country who pull off their heads, cut their hair and
play fetch with them with the dog. Yes, the plastic bimbos that
are Barbie have it rough. But what if there was some way of getting
even? In Holly Madden’s short film Chick Movie, revenge
is served in unexpected ways.

Little Charlotte’s nasty brother Maurice certainly
has an excessive masculinity complex, and he takes out stray aggression
on Charlotte’s twin Barbies. But one night, under the lax supervision
of babysitter Mr. Johnson, Charlotte discovers a way of getting
even. How are Maurice’s oppressive sexist ways mended? Well,
sometimes dolls seem to have a life and will of their own. Chick
certainly has its share of laughs. At times a bit forced,
it wins you over with its playful take on the gender war and its
self-conscious borrowing from horror-film technique. You’ll
never look at Barbie the same way again.

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Sally and Angela
by Brooke Miller

One would naturally expect that when a stereotypical
Italian-American brother and sister duo drive through the desert
on the way to a “hit,” all they would have to talk/argue about are
their cronies back in New York. Wrong. Sally and Angela is an over-the-top
action movie suggesting that a stereotypical Italian-American brother
and sister should never be documented while driving through the
desert again.

Driving a beat-up, green Cadillac, Sally and Angela
discuss the stress associated with being a gangster, such as the
consequences of not showing up to work on time. After a relatively
civil conversation, Angela relentlessly criticizes the car that
Sally has stolen for their trip-a 1970, metallic green, Cadillac
Deville. In the midst of this argument, the car overheats. Sally
looks under the hood and explains that he thinks he can fix the
problem. Angela reminds him how stupid he is and that he “couldn’t
even fix a game of ‘Go Fish.’” This is where the fight
scene erupts.

It starts, modestly, with some light pushing and head
butts, but then the jacket comes off and the Italian party music
comes on. Angela pulls some very fancy martial arts moves on Sally,
who is slow to respond until she pulls a gun on him. He retaliates
by shooting at her as she ducks in and around the caddy. Both execute
swift moves to dodge the stream of bullets. Sadly, the Deville suffers
the most damage. During the most heated moment of the gunfight,
Sally notices that the car isn’t smoking anymore and that they
can continue their journey. Angela agrees and they get in the car.
They start a fairly civil conversation again until they hear the
tire blow out (which sounds like a gun being fired), which forces
them to, naturally, pull their guns out again.

Sally and Angela is mildly amusing, at best,
because of the over-the-top extensions of the stereotypes being
used. The score is the perfect supplement to the fight scene, which
greatly overshadows the dialogue. If a potential viewer is looking
for a laugh with this movie, be advised that large quantities of
alcohol should be consumed beforehand.

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by Chris Cooke

With more and more women joining the professional
workforce, it comes as no surprise that when the time comes, many
men are choosing to stay at home with the diapers and formula. In Homedaddy, Kent Ayyildiz tells how he and his wife came to
the same decision, and describes the unforeseen consequences that

Like most men of his generation, Ayyildiz remembers
his father as the parent who was hardly ever around. In the house,
his mother did the work. So when his higher-paid wife (an attorney
to his film student) gets pregnant, they make the choice. Neither
is prepared. Ayyildiz finds himself a lonely man, alienated from
all that is not baby. And his wife Elizabeth regrets lost time with
her child. Confronted with his own loss of self, Ayyildiz finds
hope and companionship in groups of other stay-at-home dads.

Homedaddy explores Ayyildiz’ experience
in an endearing and often amusing way. Admittedly, the film suffers
a bit from extensive use of voiceover, as Ayyildiz tells us more
than he shows, making it at times more informative than engaging.
Regardless, Homedaddy is a must-see for any father-to-be,
all current dads-at-home and, for good measure, anyone who knows
a stay-at-home dad. Sounds like just about everyone. Best when watched
during an infant’s afternoon nap.

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Fusion One
by Jennifer M. Wood

The first in IndieDVD’s Fusion series, Fusion
offers viewers an eclectic viewing experience. With nine
short films to choose from (including a music video), the disk
offers something for everyone. Every Night and Twice on Sundays follows the story of Dorothy McHugh, the “world’s greatest
undiscovered star” who made her acting breakthrough as the woman
who uttered those seven famous words: “I’ve fallen, and I
can’t get up,” much to the amusement of easily entertained
television viewers around the world. Dinner is the fantastical
story of a family of fairies whose ties have been put to the test
when Jill brings home a human, Jack, who will do anything he can
to become part of their world. Tilt’s Animated Corpse provides a brief dose of musical entertainment while Zitlover dares to delve into the world of acne like no film has ever before
– or should ever again. As part of the Fusion Series’
“Red Room,” Zitlover is preceded by a caution, and it well
should be. Dramatic, funny and fun, Fusion One makes a
great diversion from the typical two-hour movie-and it’s
got all the elements you’re looking for rolled up into one
neat little package.

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