Deja Vu All Over Again

The cocktail party never ends in le cinema du Henry Jaglom

As talky films go, this is no My Dinner with Andre. It's not even as good as Jaglom's Last Summer in the Hamptons, from '95, which offered a more lively group of supporting characters, and a pretentious, East Hampton milieu with which Jaglom seemed far more familiar.

In 1992's Venice, Venice -- which took place in both Italy and Southern California, hence the (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) name -- parody came so close to reality that it was hard to tell if the film was a put-on or not. Jaglom played, effectively, himself -- an outspoken, self-professed "maverick" American director who picks up beautiful women and says swoony romantic things about how much more emotionally complicated women are than men.

Perhaps the most dangerous thing about Jaglom isn't that he makes crummy, heavily promoted films with an unheard-of speed (we admit that the guy's a workhorse, or, at least, a diligent mule), but the influence he's had on young, impressionable filmmakers. The brightest lights in the generation now coming of age -- Richard Linklater (Slacker, The Newton Boys), Julie Davis (whose often charming debut, I Love You, Don't Touch Me! included a nod in the master's direction) and Whit Stillman (Metropolitan, Barcelona) all seem like considerable talents who've fallen victim to Jaglom's excessively discursive style. His "idiosyncratic filmmaking" is the sign of a director who understands little about visual storytelling and doesn't trust his actors to define themselves through their actions. And these idiosyncrasies seem to be spreading like a bad rash.

Deja Vu.
Rated PG.
Directed by Henry Jaglom. With Victoria Foyt, Stephen Dillane and Vanessa Redgrave.

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