Deep down, we are
really all the same. Strip
away the money, the jobs, the social status and the other material
things that differentiate us, and we all basically seek the same
thing; to be happy. In
Full Frontal, Steven Soderburgh’s unique follow-up to his dual
commercial successes (Traffic
Brockovich) Soderbergh has reached back to his roots to
deliver an eclectic, humorous but realistic look at one aspect of
society that most of us seem to envy.
They are the movers and shakers of the entertainment
industry, they are those who directly or indirectly connected to
it, and they mostly seem to reside or revolve around Southern
digs his acerbic claws into various aspects of 7 different
characters as their lives intersect during one 24-hour period.
The characters are obviously connected through involvement
in a faux movie called “Rendezvous” but as we will soon find
out, have much more in common and may not be as together as most
of us would like to think they are.
utilizes the never-ending spectrum of a mirror in a mirror
(infinitely) to tell his multi-layered but never confusing tale.
Like a popular Fox series, Full Frontal takes place in
roughly a 24-hour period in, around and even above, Los Angeles.
We are first introduced to each of the characters, who are
linked through a movie called Rendezvous starring Underwood as a
star and Roberts as a reporter.
But then we are shown their lives with the camera off.
Along with them, we are shown the co-writers of the movie,
Enrico Colatoni (TV’s Just Shoot Me) who runs a
performance art theater currently playing The Sound and The Fuhrer
regaling Hitler’s (a side-splitting, mustache obsessed Nicky
Katt) conversations with his therapist.
Hang on, it gets bumpier from here.
Hyde-Pierce is the other co-writer and he is married to
Keener, who is a bored HR director who develops new ways to
interrogate employees. Keener’s
sister, McCormack, is a love-starved masseuse who is planning a
“rendezvous” with an online love interest (see above
theater manager). It
all comes full circle; all runs parallel, concurrently, yet
revelatory and insightful as it progresses along. There are a few
cameos, some funny, others giving you that sense of a-ha!!
We ride along as Soderbergh keeps twisting, folding,
revealing and pulling the curtain back several times, but always
multiple realities bring into question the ever-blurring line
between what is real and what is false or created for
entertainment purposes. With
the success of reality-based television recently, several movies,
from 15 Minutes to Series 7, have taken this perspective.
But Soderbergh uses his deft touch and ability to show us
layered characters at odds with something, to effectively
lambaste, yet pay tribute to the medium, which has given him life.
As far as
performances go, what really standout are the cameos, more than
the leads. The most
delightful one is Terrence Stamp (Soderbergh’s The Limey)
recreating his character and showing an intersection of lives and
such ala Kevin Smith or Stephen King.
Pitt, whom Pierce’s magazine has an almost unhealthy
obsession with, seems to be reveling in his brief appearances and
delights in skewering his own Hollywood-created, tabloid fodder.
Keener seems to live for this kind of roles and doesn’t
disappoint this time either.
Each role seems expressly written for her, exposing
differing sides of her abilities.
The way she expresses her displeasure for her job and life
by firing an inflatable globe at soon-to-be fired employees, then
quizzing them on African countries, is pure delight and could only
be pulled off by her. Underwood,
McCormack and Pierce also show new aspects of their repertoire,
especially McCormack who truly seems like a lonely soul amidst a
city full of empty ones. Almost
stealing the show though is Katt, as Colantoni’s
mustache-obsessed Hitler with issues.
The way he carries on a normal conversation as break
dancing SS soldiers practice behind him is truly unimaginable and
hilarious. Shot on an
18-day schedule, with the oddest list of requirements for each
cast member, Frontal lets the performers relax and have fun, not
knowing when the camera is on them. This exposes and shows us the true side of a world that seems
a lot more glamorous than it actually is.
Frontal is a scathingly humorous homage to the self-servient,
self-absorbed idols that we all envy.
It is a true movie lover’s movie, with small homage’s
to Soderbergh, and some of the other cast members, previous work.
There seems to be a theme this year of movies about the
exploration and search for happiness, as we see others who seem to
be. Frontal, along
with 13 Conversations and Sidewalks of New York all take differing
approaches but all seem to have the same thing at heart.
While the humor may go over some heads, and the prevailing
attitude may seem egotistical in nature and delivery, the films
intentions are truly noble and fun-loving, while being painfully
honest at the same time. Soderbergh
returns to his roots, filming portions on digital film, and others
on regular film, and shows that he hasn’t lost the voyeur/auteur
touches that sex, lies and videotape showed 13 years ago. I’ve often said that there is a fine line between egotism
and self-confidence. With
Full Frontal, Soderbergh shows that his ego over his commercial
success has not tainted his perspective, but his confidence in
what he has learned on his way there, shines through like a
flashlight in society’s eyes.
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