Magnolia Home Entertainment
In lieu of the standard helpings of pain, torture and gore found in most horror releases these days, Shrooms eschews the carnage for a breathtaking dose of drug-based psycho terror, with a few talking cows, Victorian demons and wet-brained Irish hillbillies. Brought to you by director Paddy Breathnach (yes, he's a Mick, folks), the film details the exploits of a group of American teens visiting their amigo Jake — a magic mushroom aficionado — on the Emerald Isle.
When the gang hikes out to the green and misty middle-of-nowhere and decide it's teatime, mushroom-style, the high weirdness kicks in. Granted, Pearse Elliott's script opts for a lot of standard devices, from the basic jock, cool chick, sweet chick, etc. characters to the questionable common sense of eating wild mushrooms; you don't have to be an Eagle Scout to know that certain fungi can take you on a truly serious trip to a place called not being alive.
On the plus side, the movie boasts excellent production values that place you right in the ancient, sensual world of the Irish countryside, where beauty is attendant with creepy things at all times. The unnatural world Shrooms conjures up is just as effective, the hallucinatory trips these young suckers take are better than a hundred Just Say No campaigns, no matter which side of the drug fence you're on. —Peter Gilstrap
I Want Someone to Eat Cheese With
Fans of Curb You Enthusiasm love it when Jeff Garlin's TV wife yells "You fat fuck" at him every week (imagine if that catchphrase ever took off). Now you have a whole 80 minutes of the sad-sack fat fuck himself getting abused and looking for someone to fuck in any denomination.
In both forums, you feel pathos for Garlin's lumbering character, but this movie (based on his one-man show of the same name) burrows deeper into his ennui, takes us along on pathetic 7-11 eating binges, plops us on the couch with his mom watching old Jackie Gleason reruns and gives us a fly-on-the-wall view of every rejection women and casting agents pile upon him.
Like Curb, the cast is filled with familiar favorites, from Dan Castellaneta to Amy Sedaris to Bonnie Hunt, mostly improvising scenes which mostly end with Garlin looking forlorn and stuffing his face with, you guessed it, cheese. The end result is not a howlingly funny movie — more like like Curb meets Fatso, Dom DeLuise's lone movie without Burt Reynolds.
Sarah Silverman's role — written for her long before her star rose and her TV show aired — sees her portraying someone slightly less shallow. (At one point she asks him if a girl ever gave him a "hoagy shack.") But the funniest part about this DVD is watching the movie with Garlin's commentary, which keeps apologizing for how unfunny it is and obsessing about whether those unwitting and unpaid "extras" will realize they're in this movie and sue him. And here's a movie-commentary first — his cell phone rings and he actually takes the call! —Serene Dominic
There are few film clichés as worn as the fresh-off-the-bus starlet who struggles to make it in Tinseltown. But leave it to the iconic Henry Jaglom ¾ the indie director who's never made a mass-appeal flick to turn cinematic folklore on its ear.
In Hollywood Dreams,the starry-eyed hopeful is Margie Chizek (Tanna Frederick) an Iowa nut-job who goes from homeless to living in a palatial estate when she catches the eye of producer Kas (Zak Norman). Eccentricity is a Hollywood commodity so Kas sees potential in Margie's lunacy. She gets introduced to various Hollywood players including fellow housemate Robin (Justin Kirk), an actor on the brink of major stardom. The key to his success so far has been the assumption that he's gay ¾ a marketing scheme concocted by his acting coach Luna (the scene-stealing Karen Black). Margie and Robin's mutual attraction tarnishes his homo-appeal and may ruin a chance for a lead role in a blockbuster film. Suddenly he's contemplating career suicide ¾ going Rock Hudson in reverse by coming out as straight.
Hollywood Dreams is a delicious satire bolstered by Frederick's ballsy performance. Some may find the flick'sfreeform plot, handheld camera work and improvised dialogue ¾ standard Jaglom devices ¾ too awkward and voyeuristic. How much you enjoy this film may depend on how many of the Hollywood in-jokes you recognize but if you can't name another Jaglom film that starred Karen Black, you might be in over your head. —Paul Knoll
G for Gianna
In Nat King Cole's classic 1964 hit "L-O-V-E," the boss of smooth vocals crooned the intimate significance of each letter of the word: "L is for the way you look at me, O is for the only one I see…"
Unfortunately, Cole never got to the letter "G." If he had, he'd have no doubt been gushing about porn's Gianna, a tarnished angel with enough curves to make ol' Ruben put down his sandwich and say, "Look you fuckers! That's what I'm talking about when I say Rubenesque!" Not only does the lady own a wildly impressive chest set (all natural, sports fans) and a pillow shelf of a keester, she has the innocent angel-slut face of the Dairy Queen sweetie who hands you the ice cream cone with a two-second topping of wicked glance.
Gifted director Jonni Darkko leads his muse through a variety of paces that'll appeal to a number of tastes: a very literally "touching" solo turn, some latex French maid submissive action, a rousing interracial romp with a commanding brother, even a touch of foot fetish where the G girl really puts her foot in her mouth. Gianna's unbridled enthusiasm is evident in a shower scene that starts with a blue latex body hugging outfit that doesn't stay on long; whether she honestly enjoys her work or is the Meryl Streep of adult, well, "W" is for who gives a shit? It works. —Fern Labott