Catherine Keener, from the poster
of "Full Frontal"
||There are some films I will see on spec -- those with a
director I like, or actor, or even a cinematographer. Why I'd see a film
just because it was made in rural Japan and promised a pretty 90 minutes
in which no one would disturb me with a phone call or a knock at my door.
And mostly this strategy has worked out well for me. I mention this
just so you understand my motivation for seeing "Full Frontal":
It was directed by Steven Soderbergh, and it stars Catherine Keener.
Soderbergh has the ability to make at least two types of films:
capricious ("Schizopolis", "Kafka"), and mainstream
("Erin Brokovitch", "Ocean's 11"). While the latter
are well-made and easy-to-digest, I think he's at his best when he's
indulging himself just a little bit. I saw him at the Toronto Film
Festival a few years ago when he was showing "Schizopolis" -- a
bizarre non-story about being an office drone, religion, and life in
general. After the screening, he was asked why possessed him to make such
an odd film which, being bereft of plot, wouldn't have much of an audience
beyond hardcore fans. He said that after making a series of big-budget
movies for various studios, he was tired of people looking over his
shoulder and that he wanted to do something for himself. Something simple.
Easy. Different. "Schizopolis" is not for everyone, but it was
one of the best things I saw that year if you're willing to open your
brain up real wide (not just "very wide", but "real
wide") and take it in whole.
He's done the same thing here. "Full Frontal" is about movies
and the movie business. It's very loosly centered around an upcoming
birthday party for a producer named Gus, played by David Duchovny, who you
don't see much of. Keener plays an evil Human Resources person who
derives pleasure by making people she's about to fire think that they
might be able to keep their job if they are able to answer a string of
mostly impossible and completely irrelevant questions ("Name all the
countries in Africa.") David Hyde Pierce plays her ineffectual and
distracted husband who is the sort of person that comes into your office
at work and just won't leave. Pretty girl Julia Roberts plays an reporter
who is interviews an upcoming film star (Blair Underwood) on a flight
across the country. And blah blah blah. I guess it don't really
matter what the film is about, because it's the way it unfolds that makes
it worth watching. It's fun, and if you see a lot of movies (because you
want to, not because of some forced "Clockwork Orange"
scenario), then you'll probably enjoy this.
PS: Almost forgot to talk about why I'll see any film with Catherine
Keener. I think she makes good choices about the roles she does. It makes
her performances worth looking at, and for that reason, I'll see anything
she's in. Never heard of her? She plays Maxine in "Being John
Malkovitch". Never seen it? What are you waiting for, exactly?
Full Frontal (IMDB)
Frontal (Official Web Site)
Catherine Keener (Yahoo! Movies)