Projections - Movie Reviews

The Anniversary Party

The Anniversary Party

Jennifer Jason Leigh and the ubiquitous Alan Cumming display their talents behind the camera, as well as in front in The Anniversary Party which is illuminating on more than one level.

The two actors wrote and conceived the project shot on a minimal budget on digital video.  This intimate Hollywood look at actors and film makers is modeled after Leigh Cumming and their actor co-star friends.

Leigh, who was in Robert Altman's Short Cuts, uses some of the insight from her own career to make a dramedy that shows her respect for the director of The Player which The Anniversary Party subtly summons too in its behind-the-scenes of Hollywood ways.

Like Altman, who is appreciated by many performers as an actor's director, Leigh and Cumming have attracted a varied, strong cast in addition to themselves as The Anniversary Party hits a Lawrence Kasdan's The Big Chill in how lives are affected from an extended reunion of sorts.  The venerable ensemble includes John C. Reilly (Magnolia), Jane Adams (Happiness), Jennifer Beals, Parker Posey (Best in Show), real-life married couple Phoebe Cates and Kevin Kline, and Gwyneth Paltrow who worked with Leigh on Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle.

Involved in show-biz in some way are nearly all who pass through The Anniversary Party and Leigh is kind of an actress like herself who isn't the innocent young woman she used to inhabit in many roles.  Paltrow's Skye Davidson, perhaps modeled after a younger Leigh but with more box-office clout, is the luminous blonde bimbo who is the star of Cumming's new film.  The sexually ambivalent man-child has more than his camera eyeing his big star.

The Anniversary Party may sputter at times for some, but the performances are on hand to admire.  While Leigh and Cumming have made a labor of love enriching on digital video, they know it's probably a film that will be best served for home viewing since its attraction may be limited to those really into the movie business.

 
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The Anniversary Party
C
 
 
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B+
B-