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Hey, FROM HOLLYWOOD TO ROSE Is an Insider Film Fan Anthem, Take That THR

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.3 shot

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.

donut guys in car

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.)From_Hollywood_to_Rose_Postcard_V2

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.

RECAP

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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Red Carpet Reveals: What Stars Depp, Brolin, Let Slip on Press Line & Katie Holmes Syndrome

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent

By now the “Disso Queen,” the nickname of Johnny Depp’s attorney Laura Wasser, has squared off against Amber Heard’s superhero-named legal eagle Samantha Spector in what looks to be A Divorce to Remember. But before allegations fly from both corners, the red carpet is where the first signs of trouble manifest. This is where being on the press line becomes an artform in reading star body language. JohnnyDeppHandWhen Depp appeared to collect a major life achievement award from Leonard Maltin in February, he was solo on the red carpet. Questions about Amber Heard’s whereabouts went unanswered, kind of down to mumbles. In fact, one could say Depp, 52, went from Trouble With Paradis, meaning long-time love Vanessa Paradis, 43, to Trouble in Paradise, meaning the current fracas with dishy Drive Angry star Amber Heard, who turned 30 in April. Angelina Jolie is reported to have been opposed to Heard from the beginning, especially the lack of pre-nup, so it’s no surprise that Depp has now retained Jolie’s former divorce lawyer Laura Wasser. “Dissolution” is the California word for divorce, hence this Disso Queen and opposing counsel Spector (both from Loyola Law School) have their battle to come on June 17, the next court date.

After Beds, Bets Are Being Made…

My money is on Wasser, because who couldn’t love a divorce attorney who went on the record with Interview Magazine in 2012 as quoting Samuel Johnson. As in, “My personal feelings on marriage? Samuel Johnson once said second marriages — although I could probably say this about any marriage — are about the triumph of hope over experience. I think that’s true. I don’t know that human beings were meant to mate for life or be monogamous.” HatterDepp16
Clearly Johnny Depp, JD to his friends, is in good hands. But those moments on the red carpet just stick in the memory, how the Black Mass star seemed reluctant to walk the press line, then makes direct eye contact and even collects a bouquet (huge security risk) from an elderly reporter across the velvet rope. This woman, in retrospect, may have reminded him of his ailing mother. For an A-Lister and franchise fronter, Jack Sparrow lost his persona for a moment and let you in, an unusual event for a movie star.

Right then it reminded of Josh Brolin, similar red carpet behavior before the story broke of his divorce from Diane Lane.  Son of well-liked actor James Brolin and step-son of Barbra Streisand, who adores Diane Lane, Brolin walked the red carpet for the 2009 WGA Awards for then-nominated movie Milk and exhibited the same Depp-like behavior, guarded and too available at the same time. BrolinLane16Diane Lane was noticeably absent from the red carpet. When asked about her, Josh Brolin evaded the issue deftly. Next time he is in the news, reports and photographs show that Brolin went off the rails briefly, in an eerie parallel to Johnny Depp’s current scenario, without the allegations of abuse, fortunately. In a relatively happy ending, Brolin is now engaged to his assistant, make that ex-assistant, Kathryn Boyd. And Diane Lane is the bigger star, so she wins.

All’s Fair in Love & Divorce

While the circumstances of Depp and Brolin’s relationships and marriage breakdown are very different, the red flags on the red carpet were the same. Oddly enough, when the news is good, as in the case of Jamie Kennedy, the red carpet behavior is the same. Kennedy was dating Jennifer Love Hewitt, but the news wasn’t broken yet. HewittKennedy16On the red carpet, Jennifer Love Hewitt was right behind him, as then co-star, but the proximity was too close. The next day Ryan Seacrest’s KISS-FM radio show broke the story about the dating, which ended within a year back in 2010.
But the big takeaway, besides the hiding in plain sight, was Jamie Kennedy’s admission in the aftermath about dating his more-famous ex: “People weren’t rooting for a good relationship,” he told Perez Hilton. “That was really hard to deal with. You see snarky headlines and eventually you just have to stop reading stuff.”

Looking Crass, Not Looking Glass?

Right now, and leading up to June 17, there is more bile than snark flying around in the Depp vs. Heard headlines. Disney is suffering bad box office for Depp-starrer Alice Through the Looking Glass; industry insiders, via The Hollywood Reporter for example, are doing a fair amount of hand-wringing, blaming Johnny Depp’s personal life (read: bad press) for the tanking BO. However, the real reflection staring back at Disney from the broken box office looking glass? The blank faces of movie-goers who are just done with recyquels (new word coined here!). Heard faces similar problems with the alleged ‘negative feedback’ coming back from her association and roles in Warner Bros’ DC Universe with an appearance in The Justice League and as a main player for the Aquaman franchise, in which she is inked to play Mera.

What Katie Did

KatieHolmes16Too bad Amber Heard didn’t read the fine print from the previous high-profile marriage meltdown, Tom Cruise vs. Katie Holmes. There should literally be a name for what happened to her, let’s call it The Katie Holmes Syndrome: meaning marrying a superstar will eclipse your career as the wife, and bury your career as the superstar’s ex. Both women gave up prime real estate in their 20’s for these mega-marriages. Holmes was already 28, but a repeat love-interest shoo-in for the Batman franchise. Which she skipped, then had to watch Maggie Gyllenhaal take over in what would become one of the biggest grossers of all time.

Consider also Michelle Williams’ career after Batman’s Heath Ledger faded. Williams was eclipsed by the bigger star and under a black cloud after The Joker‘s shock death, which literally sucked the life out of her career too. MichelleWilliams16 Heard was a huge sensation as evil-slaying hot mess Piper from sexy-psycho road movie Drive Angry with Nicolas Cage in 2011. She was 25 then, and already under Depp’s shadow. Instead of amping her career, the Johnny Depp association practically took her off the market in Hollywood. The moral of the story here is, to avoid Katie Holmes Syndrome, don’t marry the superstar if you want a career. Or simply hitch your wagon to a Star Waggon with your eyes wide open, shall we say.  Whatever the outcome, the first cracks, as mentioned, will happen on the carpet because Super Couples are literally attached at the hip for press junkets. You will be asked about your spouse, it’s a rule. Luckily, unlike TomKat and Brangelina, Depp and Heard never had a compound press moniker.

Always A Minor Hitch

Maybe it’s time for the studios to have a watcher on the red carpet to monitor tell-tale signs of personal upheavals. Or better yet, somewhere Depp’s Mortdecai co-star Gwyneth Paltrow is chuckling harder than Vanessa Paradis is said to be doing, because now the idea of “Conscious Uncoupling,” or a blood-less friendly divorce, seems like a welcome alternative. Ironically, Paltrow had to come forward to say that her marketing mind at goop, her online web lifestyle portal, had just used the term in a headline not even in the body copy of her divorce announcement. In fact, the real originator of the concept of Conscious Uncoupling, Pepper Potts had to admit, was psychologist Katherine Woodward Thomas. Woodward Thomas famously told The Telegraph, a UK newspaper, that “Gwyneth wasn’t aware I existed.” AmberHeard16The Conscious Uncoupling creator also said something at that time so telling that it applies to Depp vs. Heard, and likely to every celebrity divorce: “the grief of lost love is intensified by the sense of public shame and failure; of having your union judged and belittled.” It all starts to show when they’re called on the carpet, the dread carpet.

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