by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent
Who doesn’t love The Hollywood Reporter, a trade paper of record since 1930 at the dawn of American Cinema? So what do you do when THR lukewarmly reviews a film that is a fantastically written exploration of the interplay between fans and films, between human superpowers and caped crusaders? You write a counter-review, and here it is: this is about co-director Liz Graham and Matt Jacobs’ freshly screened FROM HOLLYWOOD TO ROSE. It’s playing on a weeklong run at Laemmle Music Hall that began last Friday, June 16, so you still have time to catch it.
Starring Eve Annenberg (writer-director of Romeo and Juliet in Yiddish) in a tacky bridal gown on an LA Metro Bus odyssey after a near-miss at matrimony, her veiled crusader of personal discovery teams up with Bradley J. Herman, Maxx Maulion, stage actress Nija Okoro, local standup Isadora O’Boto, MMA champion Krzysztof Soszynski (Logan), Linda Bisesti and Chia Chen. It’s not exactly The Justice League, but they all have pop cultural references that thread together the multicultural experience that is Los Angeles. And it works wonders for Wedding Woman.
Just to cheat the system for you, and give film fans fair access to the movie, here are actual press notes on the film, with a synopsis so you get a gist of where this film is headed.
“In the city of Angels, everyone is on a quest. A disheveled, middle-aged woman in a bridal gown boards a Metro bus on Hollywood Blvd in the middle of the night. As the bus heads further west, she meets an assortment of eccentrics and social outcasts who make her question where she’s been and where she’s going. Each person she meets is at their own personal crossroads, who in turn shape the course of her bizarre journey.”
Ironically, coming from the film’s publicity folks, this is lacking in hyperbole and the extra “tulle dimension” that FROM HOLLYWOOD TO ROSE offers diehard film buffs. ‘Tangerine Meets Canterbury Tales Set in Glitterati LaLaLand,’ is a more fitting tagline, but they got the quest part right.
Here’s something very insider fanboy and fangirl already: if you Google the title it will return results for the trip from Hollywood to Rose Avenue in Venice, which is awesome in itself. Not to mention the iconic Ballerina Clown is shown for its weirdly unpredictable staying power as a local icon despite the place going from Muscle Beach to Silicon Beach these days, with nosebleed rents and attitudes you used to only see on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, ps. So the movie also shines a spot on a place that once was cool and is now so overpriced you want to pitch a tent in protest.
Taking on the Marvel Universe, Willow, Blade Runner, Bruce Lee, even that reptilians-live-inside-the-hollow-earth yadda, FROM HOLLYWOOD TO ROSE does a mind-meld for film fans that is of epic proportions. It taps into the inner stat and Easter Egg zone in those movie people who show up at Comic-Cons in full regalia, know what cosplay is, and collect lobby cards.
Plus there’s a gummy bear fight with the near-miss sister-in-law and crazy people we see on the street every day take on a mythic significance as the canaries in this coal mine we are all currently living in. Let’s face it, the remake of Blade Runner with Ryan Gosling has most of us a little nervous, but hopeful that the 1982 Blade Runner is celebrated even more for its cult replicant allegories to our plastic surgery dystopian now.
Embedded in this so-called Woman-in-a-Wedding-Dress saga is a full display of the power of great movies to make great memories and bring out the best in people. (No, I’m not kidding. Ever wonder why movies are America’s number one lifestyle export? Because they are magical when done correctly.)
You’ve got exceptional writing here from Matt Jacobs and a standout threading of stories from the debut team of Liz Graham and Jacobs. There is not one moment of dead air, and the film treats people’s obsessions and adoration of pop culture rabbit holes with reverence.
FROM HOLLYWOOD TO ROSE points out that we all wear costumes is real life, not just in DC Comics, as a Bus Driver disrobes and frees himself. It also pokes hard at the emotional reactions to a simple white gown, a piece of clothing so imbued with primal subtext, it can literally freak people out. Not to mention the “fish lamp,” which is just as powerful as any Orb or Seeing Stone in how it moves the plot along.
The themes touched on here are the kind of uniting cross-generational, cross-cultural conversations that the Meaningful Movies inspire. Yes, including how important Batman is to some kids growing up, or Lord of the Rings to others, even seemingly hokey 80’s quest movies — all those adventure tales that somehow add you into the picture just by watching.
So embedded in this so-called Woman-in-a-Wedding-Dress tale about “a group of interconnected eccentric strangers over the course of one long night on the LA Metro system,” is a full display of the power of great movies to make great memories and bring out the best in people. With all due respect to The Hollywood Reporter, you’ll love this film because it’s about us, in front of the screen, fitting our lives into a darkened room with a bunch of crazy strangers waiting for us outside in real life.
Liz Graham’s and Matt Jacobs’ From Hollywood to Rose premiered at the Hollywood Reel Independent Film Festival, where it took the prize for Best Comedy Film and went on to screen at the Manhattan Film Festival, winning Best Comedic Screenplay. From Hollywood to Rose opened in Los Angeles at the Laemmle Music Hall last Friday, June 16th for a weeklong run.
Get tickets and info here for The Laemmle in Los Angeles.
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