The Anniversary Party - I loved it!

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Paul_D, Aug 12, 2002.

  1. Paul_D

    Paul_D Cinematographer

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    I bought this DVD on release day, and its been collecting dust on my shelf ever since. I didn't get round to watching it, even though I'd always been intrigued by the few clips I'd seen. The use of DV and the rough hand-held images gave the film a raw quality, a realism that only documentay films I'd seen had been able to capture. On a whim I pulled it out last night and I absolutely loved it. Its got an AMAZING cast, and they ALL deliver superb performances. Written/starring/directed by Alan Cummings (not as well known as he should be - Spy Kids, Eyes Wide Shut) and Jennifer Jason Leigh, it charts the goings-on at a Hollywood couple's 6th wedding anniversary party. Guests include life-long friends, business associates, current co-workers and the neighbours, who're only invited to provide an opportunity for ass-kissing to avoid a law-suit which is imminent over barking-dogs and early morning phone-calls. Co-stars include John C. Reilly, Jennifer Beals, Phoebe Cates, Kevin Kline, Gwyneth Paltrow, Parker Posey. Phoebe Cates and Jennifer Jason Leigh practically recreate their characters from Fast Times, giving the audience a glimpse of where they'd be 20 years down the line. They have an amazing scene together towards the end, which is easily the high-point of the film. It's really personal, and somewhat experimental, but at the same time it's very accessible, very, very entertaining, and surprisingly touching and funny. Great script great characters great actors great film. If you've been meaning to check it out, do so now.
     
  2. John Stone

    John Stone Supporting Actor

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    Paul,
    You sound like me. [​IMG] I also picked up this one on release day, and it has been patiently waiting in my large backlog of titles. What a great cast. I especially like Parker Posey and John C. Reilly! I'm going to try to make time for it this week. Thanks for posting and reminding me about this one!
     
  3. Jodee

    Jodee Screenwriter

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    I just moved this up to the top of my Netflix queue. I had wanted to see it since Ebert reviewed it, but you've made me want to see it right now.
     
  4. Rich Malloy

    Rich Malloy Producer

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    I was worried that it might come off as just another vanity project, but I also truly enjoyed this movie. Great roles for great actors, and that seems so rare these days. Hopefully, the handheld DV camera will allow for many, many more of these low-budget gems - we could use 'em!

    While quite different in subject matter, Richard Linklater's "Tape" is another low-budget DV film that gives some great young actors some wonderful roles to play. It's the kinda movie that probably wouldn't get made if shot on film - simply too price-prohibitive. But perfect for DV.
     
  5. Brook K

    Brook K Lead Actor

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    I agree on both, I really enjoyed The Anniversary Party and Tape. True ensemble casts where everyone gets close to equal time and the room to stretch and do their thing.
     
  6. Bruce Hedtke

    Bruce Hedtke Cinematographer

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    I liked the performances, but the dialogue and the direction were weak. After an hour, the incessant yammering and free-floating bantering just took me right out of the film. It was hard to force myself through the last 50 minutes or so...I kept hoping for a reward but it ended like it started...pointlessly. Jane Adams and Parker Posey are infinitely watchable, however.

    Bruce
     
  7. LennyP

    LennyP Supporting Actor

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    Glad to see someone else's seen this movie and got DVDs. I love it as well, so well written, bitingly funny and dramatic, and you can't really go wrong with THAT cast. I mean, Phoebe Cates and Parker Posey... in the SAME movie! I was in heaven in theaters and I love the DVD.
     
  8. Edwin Pereyra

    Edwin Pereyra Producer

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    For me, the film had some credibility issues. It was hard for me to take the film at face value. It is as if the film was going for the highest number of tragedies within an 18-hour period. An interesting experiment that just didn't work for me.

    ~Edwin
     
  9. Bruce Hedtke

    Bruce Hedtke Cinematographer

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  10. Paul_D

    Paul_D Cinematographer

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  11. Paul_D

    Paul_D Cinematographer

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    I found the film's treatment of drugs especially interesting. For about half the film it carries a powerful pro-drugs message. The filmmakers obviously didn't intend to glamourise drug use, but instead aim for a realistic portrayal of the experience, and avoid the cliched stylisation that other drug-related films fall back on to spell out to the audience that 'while the picture is green the characters are on drugs.' In the context of this, the drug-related death
    at the end seems at once a plausible plot choice and a strangely inappropriate one. Leigh and Cummings could have been trying to avoid any criticism over their portrayal of dugs by incorporating a drug-related death
    into the ending, but even though it contextually fits the plot perfectly, it happens to an unseen character, and there is no plain, 'you should NOT take drugs' moment, which makes me think that the message they were going for was 'we can't be seen making drugs look good, but they really aren't all that bad', rather than the typical 'don't do drugs' moralising. The overall message is ambiguous, and despite the social implications, it's refreshing to see a piece of entertainment that doesn't anchor itself solidly on the PC side of controversy.
     
  12. Seth Paxton

    Seth Paxton Lead Actor

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    Well, maybe tastes differ on this film from experiences. I've been to exactly those parties. And if you want to see problems amplified and everything turn into drama (well, outside of teenage keggers [​IMG] ), then throw in some acid or something, especially for the 25-35 crowd. I've never been much on getting high, but at the same time I don't see much of it any different in mentality than getting drunk. I've seen enough MAJOR damage from drinking to know that while drugs might not be "good" for you, society can be rather hypocritical in what is okay and what is not. Anyway, while never getting involved with anything heavy, I have been to plenty of parties where lots of other people were, and the emotions could really get going (along with a bit of who is fucking who drama).
    I found the film to be remarkably familiar in many of the same ways Paul points out. Moments of uncomfortable comments, shifting from room to room, chat group to chat group. The film also seemed to leave a lot of things rather unresolved, which fits the situation of a 1 night party. All the shit gets drug out in the course of the night, but very little of it gets solved.
    Plus, how cool is that DVD menu animation. Very subtle but tied to the film extremely well. One of my favorite DVD menus actually.
     
  13. Paul_D

    Paul_D Cinematographer

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  14. Colin-H

    Colin-H Second Unit

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    I just rented this movie today (#9 of 10 on my LOTR rental card). I was expecting it to be somewhat vacuous, but I was impressed. The dialogue did tend to drag at points, but all-in-all I found it to be a strikingly realistic portrait of a party. I especially liked watching Cumming's and Leigh's reactions to the guests little speechs. Their facial expressions seemed so legitimate to me, it was great. Nothing earth-shattering, really, but I appreciated the loose, improvisatory acting style. I think I'll have to add this one to the archives at some point.
    I would also like to give BIG PROPS to Michael Panes, who not only looks like Peter Sellers, not only played the violin solos himself, not only composed one of the violin solos himself, but is a graduate of BROWN UNIVERSITY -- with a degree in music, no less. Way to represent, Mike, way to represent.
     

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