Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Inside Monkey Zetterland

Inside Monkey Zetterland; Tragicomedy, USA, 1992; D: Jefery Levy, S: Steve Antin, Patricia Arquette, Tate Donovan, Sandra Bernhard, Rupert Everett, Sofia Coppola, Katherine Helmond, Bo Hopkins, Ricki Lake, Martha Plimpton

Monty 'Monkey' Zetterland is an unsuccessful actor. In order to earn some money, he goes to an experimental psychologist and tells him about his life in a session while scientists observe him: he was left by his girlfriend Daphne who left into the desert. In a library, he met his neighbor Imogene who tried to seduce him giving him photos of her feet. Since Monty was writing a screenplay, he was annoyed by the visit of his father, mother actress, brother Trent, Sofie, Sasha, grandmother and sister Grace. Grace is a lesbian and her relationship with a woman was in a crisis ever since she became pregnant. Sofie and Sasha were revealed as terrorists and died with Grace in an explosion. After a gale and unsuccessful assassin attempt aimed towards him mother, everything became better: the studio buys Monty's script and he becomes friends with Imogene.

"Inside Monkey Zetterland" is an unusually confusing independent film, but then again, on the other side, beautified with a few very delicate scenes. Written by Steven Antin, a former child star, the anemic story revolves around an unsuccessful actor with a silly name, Monkey Zetterland, while director Jefery Levy has a good sense for setting shots, like in the one where Daphne waves with her hair in front of the camera or when long takes prevail. Equally brilliant is the eccentric scene in which a voice talks with Monty but constantly changes it's tone from a high into a deep voice. But the plotless story is pointless and simply unmemorable, instead trying to fill it's running time with dialogs without a point or various empty episodes (boring argument of Monty over Daphne who left into the desert), while it also has too many unnecessary characters and unused subplots. It's a pity, for instance, that Sandra Bernhard has such an unimportant episode: she is sweet as neighbor Imogene who gently tries to seduce Monty (when he wakes up lying on the table in the library, he spots her having her head leaned towards him) but he always stays cold and distant - if they started a real relationship, the story could have actually had some merits.


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