Friday, May 11, 2018

Home video debut for Michael Dunaway and Chris White's slick, surprising and commendable SIX L.A. LOVE STORIES

Just how much quality entertainment can be packed into a sextet of unconnected stories lasting only 77 minutes is demonstrated quite vividly in the just-released-to-home-video indie movie, SIX L.A. LOVE STORIES.

This proved to be one of those films TrustMovies agreed to watch, thinking that at least he'd be doing the publicist a favor, that turned out to be a delightful surprise he would not have wanted to miss.

A sterling example of what decent direction (Michael Dunaway)
and editing (Sean Valla), smart writing (from Mr. Dunaway and Chris White) and most especially the kind of terrific acting that some of tinsel town's finest supporting and ensemble actors can deliver, this little movie actually makes good on what many other vastly more storied and expensive projects fail at: an intelligent, funny, occasionally even moving and always entertaining piece of movie-making.

That cast includes Dunaway, shown at left, who plays (and very well) a big, cuddly teddy bear of an ex-husband to Alicia Witt's ex-wife, meeting ostensibly to discuss the proper school for their young daughter, but delving into other, much more personal things. Ms Witt (below) provides the dramatic high point here, as she navigates near-perfectly a most difficult and confusing few moments of self-revelation.

The writing includes a marvelous riff on Kurt Cobain's pancreas, delivered with in deliciously dry fashion by one of my favorite actors, Ross Partridge (below, whose film Lamb you really ought to see),

playing a "guest" at a rather typical L.A. pool party who has a yen for another guest, an angry young woman essayed with zest and finesse by Ashley Williams, below.

More delightful dialog comes as a recently cuckolded husband (a fine Matthew Lillard, below), confronts his abashed wife with a raft of questions: "Did he use a condom?  Was it one of mine?  Out of my sock drawer!?"

That poor wife (the always wonderful Carrie Preston, below), here as hang-dog as you are likely to have seen her, can only sit and hope and cope.

Meanwhile, in another part of town, a sort of mini-Ted-Talks-marathon is taking place, staged managed by Jennifer Lafleur (below, left), at which one of the guest speakers turns out to be her ex-lover (Ogy Durham, below, right), whose very appearance here has been stage-managed, too.

What L.A. movie would be complete without some "movie industry" fodder? This is provided by the tale of a ditzy would-be screenwriter (Marshall Allman, below) who seems to pride himself on insulting the very folk who try to help him,

and his ex-girlfriend (Jamie Anne Allman, below), who, despite his idiocy and maybe due to how f-ing adorable the kid is, continues to carry a torch.

The funniest story involves the historic home of the famous Will Rogers, and a tour guide/docent at that home (the fabulously funny Beth Grant, below) and her encounter with an academic writer who is not a fan of this Mr. Rogers but who has flown out from New York to visit the house.

The writer is played by that ubiquitous supporting actor Stephen Tobolowsky, and he and Ms Grant make quite the match. These tales, fortunately, are women together so that we spend two, three, maximum four minutes with one and then move to another and another before arriving back to the original again. The pacing proves just about perfect so that we never lose touch with the each plot nor its humor and drama, even though there is no connection between the characters or tales.

The movie has a nice, improvisational quality that carries through all the tales, and it helps immensely that each situation and each set of characters are different enough, one from another, that neither repetition nor similarity ever sets in. What is maybe most surprising here is how very involved we get in these short little stories -- thanks to the very high grade of acting, writing, directing and editing on view. Good job, all! (That's Peter Bogdonovich, below, who makes a guest appearance in the film as one of those Ted-ish-Talks speakers.)

From Random Media and running just 77 minutes, Six L.A. Love Stories made its debut on digital, DVD and VOD this past Tuesday, May 8. It's definitely worth a watch, especially for those who appreciate the movie equivalent of some good "short stories."

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