Queen Of The Lot
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Queen Of The Lot

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Reality and entertainment have always been inexorably entwined but in recent years the line that separates the two have blurred beyond recognition. The public’s intense infatuation with the personal lives of the rich and famous, the later term currently used in the broadest possible way, has become a billion dollar industry. There has always been a certain fascination held by the common throng to see the upper crust fall from their lofty perch. What once was propagated by means of gossip is now distributed through glossy magazines, television ‘entertainment news’ shows’ and more web sites that it’s possible to count. Henry Jaglom is a far from a relatively new auteur who is rapidly becoming one of the independent film community’s brightest filmmakers. He is building his well deserved reputation biting the hand that feeds his craft with frequently darkly hysterical results. I have to state that I greatly admire a filmmaker who decides to bypass the easy road to creating a film and selects a difficult genre as the canvas to express his artistic vision. In this case Me. Jaglom chose to try his hand at satire and after watching his first two works it is obvious that he found a niche where his talent can flourish. I have always been a fan of dark comedy and satire and the works of this brilliant man quickly rose to be numbered among my favorites. his latest film, ‘Queen of the Lot’ is a continuation of his prior movie ‘Hollywood Dreams’, a hopefully ongoing story about a young woman’s quest for the elusive goal of fame and the frequently unexpected results of achieving it. It’s been quite awhile since I’ve seen a comedy that eschewed the current trend of gross, overly sexualized juvenile comedy in favor of humor with substance to it. I realize that several critical appraisals of his work have been lukewarm but I feel that the sensibilities for appreciating sharply crafted satire have been dulled by the inundation of low brow humor. While I understand that there is a place for such movies, I have a few guilty pleasures along that line, but personally they only make watching as film like this shine brighter.

Henry Jaglom is a man from the generation prior to the one in ascendance at the moment which gives him as naturally different perspective on the current state of our society. It also contributes to why his movies strike a chord with me; I can readily appreciate his vantage point and feel I could understand where he is coming from. He is able to provide a more mature look at the habitually silly youth orient culture. He has been honing his skills for some forty years now applying his abilities to a well balanced spectrum of genres over that time. I admit that thus far I have only seen the previous movie in this series but I will make it a point to seek out his other works. At the core of both movies is a young woman, Maggie Chase, nee Chizek (Tanna Frederick). Like many girls she grew up with a strong desire to become famous as an actress. ‘Hollywood Dreams’ considered her struggles to break into the fickle monster called show business. Now Maggie has become to gain some attention but hits a wrinkle in her quest; arrest. Getting behind the wheel of her car after imbibing a rather significant quantity of alcoholic beverages result in being charges with the favorite starlet milestone, the DUI. Instead of institutional incarceration the judge sentences her to house arrest and the mandatory fashion accessory; the ankle monitoring bracelet. Maggie has managed to bring herself a long way from her small town Iowa roots but even at the ‘B’ list level life is still a struggle to reach out to that next exalted rung on the ladder. Maggie is concerned over her popularity as measured by hits on Google, finding herself on the rise but nowhere near the coveted a List stars such as Angelina Jolie. Maggie rose to her place with a few action flicks and a public relationship with her boyfriend Dov Lambert (Christopher Rydell) with the proper credentials of the bad boy movie star who hails from a family of Hollywood royalty. In as very nice touch Jaglom calls on his own Hollywood connections to bring in a supporting cast of actual well known names in stardom including Mary Crosby, Peter Bogdanovich, Dennis Christopher and Jack Heller. Noah Wyle takes on the role of the boyfriend’s brother Aaron. While he is the near do well of the family he is able to see past the façade that Maggie as built to the uncertain small town girl she so desperately tries to hide. This reflects the internal dichotomy that she struggles with as the brothers vide for her attention.

Jaglom exhibits an appropriately dry sense of humor taking pot shots at the Hollywood insiders using many of them to make his point. For example filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich plays against type as an annoying unemployed director. The overall effect is a tongue in cheek look at the most glamorous industry in the world giving fans a peak behind the curtain. This insider’s look is always popular with diehard film fanatics as we get a few laughs over a group’s self deprecating humor. I’ve seen and enjoyed many movies of this type but thus far this one is rising to my favorite’s list. I hope Jaglom continues the saga of Maggie Chase perhaps continuing on to her career peaking and ultimately scrambling for parts past her prime when her looks have faded and marginal acting skills have been exhausted.

Posted 06/10/11

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