Review: ‘Burning Down the House’

"Burning Down the House" replays the familiar black comedy riffs of how rotten Hollywood is at the core. Michael Cole Dinelli's adaptation of his "Hurlyburly" wannabe play, "High Tension in the Tropics," is a gabfest involving a director so desperate to raise cash for his pic that he decides to torch his beloved abode for the insurance payout. Shot in 1998, recently recut and going direct to vid in May after Method Fest preem, this is a sure dust-collector.

“Burning Down the House” replays the familiar black comedy riffs of how rotten Hollywood is at the core. Michael Cole Dinelli’s adaptation of his “Hurlyburly” wannabe play, “High Tension in the Tropics,” is a gabfest involving a director so desperate to raise cash for his pic that he decides to torch his beloved abode for the insurance payout. Helmer Philippe Mora (“Snide & Prejudice”) and his notable cast appear clueless from first frame to last. Shot in 1998, recently recut and going direct to vid in May after Method Fest preem, this is a sure dust-collector.

Upon the accidental death of filmmaker Sy (Orson Bean), director Jake Seiling (John Savage) options the latest novel by Arthur Kranson (William Atherton) which had been on Sy’s radar. Money via a sleazy Gallic producer (Rene Auberjonois) isn’t enough, so partner Arnie (James Wilders) cajoles Jake to burn his house. Jake’s ex-wife Brenda (Joanne Baron) is one of a dozen and more irritants in his life, which goes downhill fast. Screened pic was shown in a botched blowup from 16mm.

Burning Down the House

Production

A Vanguard Cinema release (in video) of a Rogue Arts and Filmkitchen.com presentation. Produced by Joanne Baron, James Wilder, John Savage, Elise Pritcher. Executive producers, David Meyer, Liz Meyer, Paul Ecke, Julie Ecke, Sandy Passman. Co-producer, Cassidy Phillips. Directed by Philippe Mora. Screenplay, Michael Cole Dinelli, based on his play, "High Tension in the Tropics."

Crew

Camera (FotoKem color), Dan Gillham; editor, Robyn T. Luers; music, Jeff Marsh; costume designer, Ann Lambert. Reviewed at Method Fest, Burbank, April 12, 2003. Running time: 88 MIN.

With

John Savage, James Wilders, Joanne Baron, William Atherton, Rene Auberjonois, John Ales, Arye Gross, Orson Bean, Mick Fleetwood, C. Thomas Howell, Luca Bercovici, David Keith.
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