The one-joke premise is this: seven friends in New York basically live their lives without ever really meeting. Instead, they talk on the phone. Dates are set, parties are planned, sex is had, even children are born -- but no one is there, in the physical sense.
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And while I can understand how laziness can motivate a writer/director to base yet another movie on waitstaff working thankless jobs in a restaurant while dreaming of lives on the outside (just imagine how big the audience of waiters and waitresses must be!), I can't begin to fathom why he'd title that film In the Weeds -- and why a studio like Miramax would allow that title to stick on the eventual straight-to-DVD release that occurs five years after the film's production.
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Writer-director Bernard Rose's tense and pensive, Tolstoy-inspired, digital-noir dark showbiz farce "ivans xtc." is a potent, surprising piece of seat-of-the-pants cinema -- and not just because it actually makes you feel sympathy for a slimy Hollywood agent.
Set in the most furtive, cutthroat corners of the film industry, the movie opens by creating an atmosphere of contagious kinetic, vitalizing anxiety with a nerve-pinching score and metaphorical, dream-like images of a smoggy, hazy Los Angeles sunrise that has an ironic, asphyxiating urban beauty. The odd serenity of these sights is further offset by muffled sounds of hard breathing and the distant voices of emergency room doctors.
After this title sequence establishes the film's disquieting mood, the story begins with a bombshell that leaves its industry-archetype characters stunned -- but not so stunned that they won't immediately begin jockeying to take advantage. Powerful young talent agent Ivan Beckman (Danny Huston) died last night, quite suddenly of cancer -- or so the story goes. Within 60 seconds of getting the news, the other talent wranglers in his firm are gossiping about drugs. "What did he do," ask one rival who is repressing a savage, smug smile. "Freebase his face off?"
Continue reading: Ivans Xtc. Review