Casually dismissed by those who place a premium on things like narrative, visual lucidity, and editorial smoothness, writer/director/emotional exhibitionist/mumblecore forefather Henry Jaglom trudges forth undeterred, making his self-financed, self-distributed, unapologetically personal portraits of hopeless L.A. neurotics searching for self-fulfillment. A professed "male lesbian" who has made films on the subjects of pregnancy and eating disorders, Jaglom here turns his distaff radar on the relationship between women and their fathers. His latest ingénue, Tanna Frederick, stars as a singer looking for a man she can love and admire as much as her dearly departed dad. Frederick, who played a comically desperate aspiring actress in Jaglom's previous (and better) Hollywood Dreams, remains very much in capital-A Actor mode here, though her sometimes cartoonishly big performance is counterbalanced by those of erstwhile Jaglom muse Andrea Marcovicci, who acts and sings beautifully in a couple of scenes as a mystery woman from Frederick's past, and Victoria Tennant, who lends the film unexpected emotional ballast as Frederick's mother. As in many of Jaglom's more middling efforts, moments of genuine insight alternate freely with those of banal psychologizing, but even so there's no denying the filmmaker has an ear for a certain brand of self-absorbed discourse often overheard in restaurants and bars in the shadow of the Hollywood sign. And given the choice, I'll take Henry's home movies over Jonathan Demme's any day of the week.
It's alwys a pleasure to hear from Marcovicci.
Opens at Varsity, Fri., Oct. 30. Rated PG-13. 94 minutes.