Saturday, January 1, 2011

OOPS! best movies of the last decade that i missed: PART TWO ('IVANS XTC')

I started the new year off with a movie i didn't even know existed until a few months ago, and it ended up becoming one of my favorites. Maybe its my own ignorance, but i would have never guessed that the director of 'Candyman' (Bernard Rose) was capable of adapting a Tolstoy novel into one of the best films of the last decade. In 'Ivans XTC', Danny Huston plays Ivan Beckman. A hotshot hollywood agent that must come to terms with his morality when he finds out that he has lung cancer (which is apparently in a late stage and cant be stopped). He keeps the news of his cancer a secret, and continues with his drug addicted, fast pace, cliche hollywood lifestyle, which probably played a major role in his deteriorating health.
There's so many great things about this movie, i don't even know where to start. Much like what Robert Altman did with 'The Player', Bernard Rose took a typically shallow character; a sleazy hollywood talent agent, and gave him depth. If 'The Player' represents the glamorous or fairytale side of hollywood, then films like; 'Ivans XTC', 'Ellie Parker' or even 'Mulholland Drive' represent the not-so glamorous side. I would even throw 'Inland Empire' in with those films, but so many people hate that movie (I'm not one of them), i guess i shouldn't mention it, so forget i even said anything. Its very difficult to show realism amongst a fake scene Los Angeles, but these films (especially 'Ivans XTC') truly succeed in doing that. At the end of the day, Ivan Beckman, Ellie Parker & Diane Selwyn (Mulholland Drive) all represent that person who's been chewed up and spit out by hollywood. While being a studio director, Bernard Rose must have either; seen some crazy shit in his time, or he just doesn't like L.A., because this film is pretty much a hate letter to hollywood and the movie business in general.
Danny Huston did an amazing job. You start off hating Ivan Beckman just like any other typical hollywood agent character, but once he realizes he's going to die, you slowly feel bad for him (especially in the last 10-15 minutes of the film). Rarely do you see Huston as a leading man, although he's in a ton of movies. He's played supporting roles in plenty of films like; 'children of men', 'the constant gardener', 'birth' and 'marie antionette', but 'Ivans XTC' shows that he can be a dynamic leading man if given that chance by someone other than Bernard Rose (Huston Also plays the lead role in Rose's 'The Kreutzer Sonata'). In fact, his performance in the film is somewhat reminiscent of his father; John Huston. Even Peter Weller gives a hilarious supporting performance as Ivan's client and fictitious A-list hollywood star; "Don West" (who I'm sure is based on someone or a is an amalgam of celebrities that Bernard Rose has come across in his life).
'Ivans XTC' is one of the earlier digital films like; Bamboozled, Julien-Donkey Boy or Festen. There's also 'Timecode', but that movie wasn't very good. Its pretty cliche to compare a digital, mostly handheld shot movie to the work of John Cassavetes, but unlike a lot of that mumblecore shit ('baghead', 'funny ha ha', 'Hannah Takes The Stairs' and other films that draw praise from "John Cassavetes scholar" Ray Carney) this is one of the somewhat recent films that actually deserves the comparison to cassavetes's work, along with other great digitally shot films i mentioned. The only thing that sucks about 'Ivans XTC', is that its not that easy to come by. There's not even a U.S. dvd available, which makes it difficult for the film to get any attention or exposure. But if you have the capability to watch multi-region dvd's. i highly recommend ordering 'Ivans XTC' on
And I assume most of you have seen Mulholland Drive and The Player (if you haven't, you should), but for those who haven't seen 'Ellie Parker', i highly recommend that as well. It's a nice companion with a film like Mulholland Drive. In fact, its almost like a light-hearted, comedic version of Mulholland Drive. It deals with pretty much the same elements; A struggling young actress in L.A. And, Naomi Watts plays the lead roles in both; Ellie Parker and Mulholland Drive. Also, this digitally shot film is very similar to the look of 'Ivans XTC'. 'Ellie Parker' is nothing amazing or anything like that, but its worth checking out.


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