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4 out of 5 stars
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Soderbergh is becoming one of the most creative (and fastest) directors working in Hollywood at the moment; and here he pokes fun at his own industry with this ode to movie romances, obviously made specifically for film freaks like me! It's a multi-strand film, following a series of characters through a sequence of mind-bogglingly interlocked stories, all involving love. Francesca (Roberts) and Calvin (Underwood) are actors starring in the film Rendezvous, about a journalist interviewing an actor on the set of his new movie (costarring Brad Pitt). As they talk, they slowly fall in love. These segments are shot slickly on film; everything else is grainy video.

Off set, Francesca is lamenting the fact that she's never found true love while Calvin sleeps with anything that moves, including human resources executive Lee (Keener), who's decided to end her dying marriage to the screenwriter Carl (Pierce), who cowrote both Rendezvous and the play The Sound and the Fuhrer (starring Katt as a new age Hitler) with Art (Colantoni), who has been going online pretending to be a 22-year-old painter to seduce Linda (McCormack), who happens to be Lee's sister!

Soderbergh circles around and around, playing with the characters and building steadily to a movie producer's (Duchovny) 40th birthday party, where everyone comes together. Sort of. The film is busy and complicated and it required intense attention as well as a sort of detached willingness to just go with it. Achieving the right balance is difficult, but it's rewarded with one of the most hilarious and astute jabs at Hollywood in recent memory, as it brilliantly contrasts these characters' tortured love lives with a perfect movie romance. Of course there's a lot more to it than that, and the cast play it exceptionally well (Pierce and McCormack are the standouts). There are moments of unexpected awfulness and sublime humour throughout the film. You really have to see it for yourself though.

cert 18 adult themes and situations, language 15.Nov.02 lff

dir Steven Soderbergh
scr Coleman Hough
with Julia Roberts, Blair Underwood, Catherine Keener, David Hyde Pierce, Mary McCormack, Enrico Colantoni, David Duchovny, Nicky Katt, Brad Pitt, Erika Alexander, Tracy Vilar, Brad Rowe, Mike Malone, Sandra Oh, David Fincher, Terence Stamp
release US 2.Aug.02; UK 23.May.03
Miramax
02/US 1h41

Rendezvous. Calvin and Francesca (Underwood and Roberts) play an actor and a journalist who find movie love in the film within the film ... within the film.

LONDON FILM FESTIVAL

keener duchovny soderbergh

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2002 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall

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