Review: ‘Queen of the Lot’

'Queen of the Lot'

Meandering, talky film-industry satire never manages to rouse itself from a near-comatose level of self-satisfaction.

Henry Jaglom has carved himself a unique slot in indie film over his 40-year career, regularly churning out idiosyncratic projects of wildly varying merit. In some films he seems a gifted director with a discipline problem; in others, a slipshod hobbyist with inexplicable access to funding. “Queen of the Lot,” a sequel to his 2006 pic “Hollywood Dreams,” showcases the director in the latter mold, and this meandering, talky film-industry satire never manages to rouse itself from a near-comatose level of self-satisfaction. Jaglom’s small but committed fan club should turn up for this limited release.

Tanna Frederick reprises her role as childlike aspiring starlet Maggie Chase from “Hollywood Dreams,” having since become a B-level action star forced to wear a Lindsay Lohan-esque electronic ankle bracelet after collecting one too many DUIs.

Under house arrest and stalked by paparazzi, Maggie holes up with her bad-boy actor boyfriend, Dov (Christopher Rydell, wearing a leather jacket even while sunbathing poolside). A scion of Hollywood royalty, Dov invites her to a series of dinner parties at his palatial family home, and Maggie begins gravitating toward his failed-screenwriter brother (cast standout Noah Wyle), who possesses the advantage of not being a married, compulsive-gambler degenerate.

We see Maggie attend an addiction therapy meeting, but the ankle-bracelet conceit seems more a sop to contemporary Hollywood gossip trends than anything relevant to the story, as do most of the film’s lackadaisical narrative strands. Some ludicrous late-breaking plot developments try to push the story into gear, but they merely lay bare the film’s lack of momentum, already slowed by such indulgences as shooting the assembled characters singing several full-length Christmas carols, mostly out of tune.

“Queen” is the third consecutive Jaglom film Frederick has toplined, and while she’s a perfectly adequate and at times charming actress, she lacks the experience or magnetism to anchor an entire feature; that Jaglom requires her to play a leading lady as well as be one does her no favors. A menagerie of interesting supporting players show up here (including Peter Bogdanovich, Paul Sand and Kathryn Crosby), but many of them seem clumsily wedged in.

As usual, Jaglom has an agreeably breezy touch with the camera, and an Altman-inspired knack for slipping in and out of conversations like an unobtrusive party guest. If the evidently improvised dialogues into which he was intruding had more spark, this would be an effective technique — as it is, it merely gives the entire film an added degree of nonchalance, which is precisely the last thing it needs.

Queen of the Lot

Production

A Rainbow Releasing release of a Rainbow Film Co. presentation of a Henry Jaglom production. Produced by Rosemary Marks. Directed, written by Henry Jaglom.

Crew

Camera (color), Hanania Baer; editor, Ron Vignone; music, Harriet Schock; costume designer, Cynthia Obsenares; set decorator, Sofia Jimenez; sound, Bayard Carey; assistant director, Cynthia A. Potthast. Reviewed on DVD, Los Angeles, Nov. 15, 2010. MPAA Rating: R. Running time: 120 MIN.

With

Tanna Frederick, Noah Wyle, Christopher Rydell, Paul Sand, David Proval, Zack Norman, Kathryn Crosby, Mary Crosby, Peter Bogdanovich, Dennis Christopher, Jack Heller.

Filed Under:

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 0

Leave a Reply

No Comments

Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

More Film News from Variety

Loading