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FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION

SYNOPSIS:
Debuting director Jay Berman (Christopher Guest) is making the low budget Home for Purim, a period drama about a Jewish family's turbulent reunion. When vague internet-generated rumors begin circulating that three of Purim's stars - faded luminary Marilyn Hack (Catherine O'Hara), tv ad hot dog character Victor Allan Miller (Harry Shearer), and ingénue Callie Webb (Parker Posey) - may be in consideration for Oscar nomination, unavoidable excitement rattles them all. Unit publicist Corey Taft (John Michael Higgins), talent agent Morley Orfkin (Eugene Levy), and producer Whitney Taylor Brown (Jennifer Coolidge) all are infected. Then Hollywood Now anchors Chuck Porter (Fred Willard) and Cindy Martin (Jane Lynch) pick up the buzz.

Review by Louise Keller:
Targeting Hollywood may appear to be Christopher Guest's most commercial satire to date, so it is ironic that the resulting film is perhaps his least accessible. That's not to say that For Your Consideration is not funny, biting, cutting and satirical. The film is all those things. But there are fewer laughs than expected as the topic takes us into dark territory, likely to appeal to cult audiences interested in film industry in-jokes. There is less character development than usual and the mockumentary format which Guest and writer/co-star Eugene Levy perfected, has been replaced by a narrative.

The setting is a backlot in Hollywood, where a 40s melodrama is being shot. The film within the film has a Jewish tone and a Jewish title, and the director (Guest) is experimenting with the cast and the script. We dip in and out of the actors' scenes as they rehearse, read their lines and teeter on the impossibly jagged line which differentiates their own lives from that of the character they are playing. And we get to laugh at all of them as they interact with each other, live the roles and take each other (and themselves) too seriously. All Guest's regulars are back. On the acting front, there's the wonderful Catherine O'Hara as the ageing actress playing the dying matriarch and Parker Posey as the actress portraying the rebellious lesbian daughter. There's Levy as the big-noting agent, Bob Balaban as script writer Philip Koontz (whose name gets badly mispronounced) and larger-than-life Jennifer Coolidge as a producer who has no idea what a producer actually does. Jane Lynch and Fred Willard portray Chuck and Cindy, the plastic anchors of a TV breakfast show, who are hilarious caricatures of themselves.

The irony hits when the Men In Suits descend on the set and insist on a 'few changes', including removing the Jewishness and changing the title. The whisper campaign about possible Oscar nominations for the various actors is taken to its tragic conclusions, and how can we ever forget a highly botoxed O'Hara making a television appearance to promote the film. Guest is a skilled filmmaker and although his fans will enjoy the ride, the film falls a little flat.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Christopher Guest reportedly shied away from satirising the Oscars as being too easy a target, but found his way to tackle the perimeter of the glittering prize via this often bitter sweet, ironic fantasy. The focus is not the ceremony but the effect that Oscar - even at a remote distance - can have on the always fragile egos of actors. In the process, Guest and co-writer Levy give credence to the power of the internet, where the silly rumour was seeded. In this respect, the film is really more a warning about taking baseless rumours to heart - and from there it's a short step to human nature in general. Our weakest moments are those where we give in to vanity ...

The usual suspects inhabit Guest's film, the troupe now a well oiled movie machine that can nuance anything from a duck to a tank, from a heartbreak to a commercial break. Indeed, the TV shows that slavishly follow the false trail of Oscar buzz are lampooned even more mercilessly than the actors who give in to wishful thinking. But the tone sits somewhere between satire and slapstick, which is not natural Guest territory; he's best at a more subtle level. The title suggests that the original idea was to poke fun at the pre-Oscar marketing and jostling process. This is just as valid, but a new title might have given us more accurate expectations.

The film provides lots of knowing laughter, plenty of ridicule at the cast's expense, and a dose of sympathy for Catherine O'Hara, who lets herself be botoxed for the sake of her character, when Oscar possibility looms. It's good, but it's not his greatest film.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 2

FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION (M)
(US, 2006)

CAST: Catherine O'Hara, Parker Posey, Christopher Guest, John Michael Higggins, Harry Shearer, Eugene Levy, Ed Begley jnr, Jennifer Coolidge, Rachel Harris, Bob Balaban, Fred Willard, Jane Lynch

PRODUCER: Karen Murphy

DIRECTOR: Christopher Guest

SCRIPT: Christopher Guest, Eugene Levy

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Roberto Schaefer

EDITOR: Robert Leighton

MUSIC: Christopher Guest, Eugene Levy, Jeffrey C. J. Vanston

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Joseph T. Garrity

RUNNING TIME: 86 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Dendy

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: January 25, 2007







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