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Theory of the Leisure Class

"Theory of the Leisure Class'' delivers its one unearned idea -- Thorstein Veblen's analysis of corrosive consumerism referred to in the title -- as a bluntly spoken message in the final moments, long after this strained piece of American trailer-trash surrealism has expired from creative exhaustion.

With:
With: Tuesday Knight, Athena Stensland, Brad Renfro, Christopher McDonald, Michael Massee, Jon Cellini, Brook A. Conrad, Erika Brannan.

“Theory of the Leisure Class” delivers its one unearned idea — Thorstein Veblen’s analysis of corrosive consumerism referred to in the title — as a bluntly spoken message in the final moments, long after this strained piece of American trailer-trash surrealism has expired from creative exhaustion. The filmmaking, extending from Amber Benson’s original story to Gabriel Niccolo Bologna’s helming, lacks control even as it attempts a woozy deconstruction of film noir. Best hope for pic, kicking around for a couple of years, could be Euro markets eager for roadside Yank weirdness with indie star Brad Renfro on the bill, but post-theatrical biz appears nil.

Bar owner Julie (co-producer Athena Stensland) is pressed for a story by L.A. Times reporter Cindie (Erika Brannan), who — in a low depiction of the ethics of that paper’s staff — pays the barkeep to talk. She tells of her lover Callie (Tuesday Knight) cheating on her husband Joe (Jon Cellini) and keeping more than Julie as a bedmate. Callie’s rotten life turns worse when her kids are murdered — possibly by her. McMillan (Michael Massee), a cowboy-style detective with aesthetic sensibilities, adds to the ridiculous hothouse atmosphere.

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Theory of the Leisure Class

Production: An IQ Entertainment and Garibaldi Prods. presentation. (International sales: IQ Entertainment, L.A.) Produced by Athena Stensland, Jeff Rice. Executive producers, Carlos Perez-Gomez, Roger Mende. Directed by Gabriel Niccolo Bologna. Screenplay, Amber Benson, Bologna; story, Benson.

Crew: Camera (Hollywood Film and Video color), Chris Tufty; editor, Michael Berenson; music, Howard Drossin; production designer, Ola Stensland; costume designer, Kevin Ackerman. Reviewed on videotape, L.A., July 21, 2001. (In New York Independent Film and Video Festival.) Running time: 108 MIN.

With: With: Tuesday Knight, Athena Stensland, Brad Renfro, Christopher McDonald, Michael Massee, Jon Cellini, Brook A. Conrad, Erika Brannan.

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