The circumstances of Heckerling's clearly autobiographical film (she worked on the TV version of Clueless for several years following that film's release, which she also directed) mirrors its character's mix of luxury and messiness: It's a feature film with a decent budget and several recognizable stars that got caught up in a distribution mess and wound up proceeding straight to DVD. The movie itself is a bit of a mess, too, with weird interludes where Tracey Ullman, playing Mother Nature(!), harangues Rosie about the unstoppable march of time. Heckerling is fond of this technique; as the screenwriter-director, she pauses the movie for diatribes of her own about the destructive nature of beauty standards, the absurdity of network executives and standards and practices monitors, and the insanity of reality TV -- topics that seem to have been festering for a good decade or so.
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House of 9 is yet another strangers-kill-one-another-while-trying-to-escape-a-house movie, this one with the premise that the survivor gets $5 million. There's no explanation for why these nine people are here or really much of who they are (though one's a cop, one's a rapper, one's an alcoholic, one's Kelly Brook, and one's Dennis Hopper playing a priest). And naturally, unless you like to hear Hopper attempt an Irish accent, there's not much reason to care about which one of them survives. The film is so obtuse (after about 30 minutes attempting to escape, the abductees are found hosting a dance party and then tucking in to sleep) you couldn't muster an emotion over these idiots if you tried.
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After a brief prelude, the film picks up Modigliani's story in 1919, the year before his death, at a time when modern art was flourishing in Paris. Artists such as Pablo Picasso, Diego Rivera, and Jean Cocteau haunted the cafes at night as their fame and influence spread over the globe. It is here, in a café, where Modigliani (Andy Garcia) makes his entrance, drunkenly hopping onto a table and publicly ridiculing Picasso with the question, "How do you make love to a cube?"
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