Michael Blanco

Acting has a feverish hold on many, but its grip on "Michael Blanco" is without end or re-covery. Playing at times like an unconscious parody of the European art film, and at other times like a dream inside central character Blanco's fame-obsessed head, writer-director Stephan Streker's cool observance of a Belgian thesp trying to make it in Hollywood is sufficient for a short sprint, but clearly runs out of ideas at feature length.

With:
With: Michael Goldberg, Larry Moss, Lily Holbrook, Alfred Carr, Seymour Green, Judi Dickerson, Jake Speer, Frank Bruynbroek , Jonathan Levit , Jacky Fire. (English, French dialogue)

Acting has a feverish hold on many, but its grip on “Michael Blanco” is without end or recovery. Playing at times like an unconscious parody of the European art film, and at other times like a dream inside central character Blanco’s fame-obsessed head, writer-director Stephan Streker’s cool observance of a Belgian thesp trying to make it in Hollywood is sufficient for a short sprint, but clearly runs out of ideas at feature length — even at under 80 minutes. Belgian release in fall may be followed by limited openings in select Euro territo-ries, with wider limelight in ancillary.

Blanco (Michael Goldberg, who also produced) is not your usual aspiring actor poring over the casting pages in Back Stage: He’s first seen walking into the ocean fully dressed. He meets with a photographer (Frank Bruynbroek) who insists on taking horizontal headshots, noting that they stand out more. He sweats and struggles with an acting coach (Larry Moss), who can only do so much with such starkly limited talent. He con-venes with a producer (Jake Speer), who tells him, “No busi-ness, no show.”

And how can one take Blanco seriously — a little fellow with a thick accent whose ambition is to be the next Jean-Claude Van Damme? “Michael Blanco” always seems to be on the verge of spoofing Hollywood, the acting game and foreigners blindly lust-ing for the American Dream, only to retreat to an uninteresting depiction of a lonely, confused but driven stranger in a strange land.

Even a reappearing two-man chorus (Alfred Carr, Seymour Green) commenting on what Blanco is trying so pathetically to achieve doesn’t give the movie added dimension or wit to leaven its self-serious tone.

Project reads as Goldberg’s elaborate showcase-cum-calling card to Hollywood, but he ends up having little to show for the effort. Perhaps a Wim Wenders, with a stronger understanding for Los Angeles’ peculiar moods, light and space and its effect on people, would have brought out something more in Goldberg the actor. Art-fully precise camera placements alone don’t cut it, though Antoine Roch’s lensing is terrific and Louis Vyncke’s score is trippy.

Michael Blanco

Belgium-France-U.S.

Production: A Victory Prods. release (in Belgium) of an M.G. Prods./Formosa/Let's Go/Zaya presentation. (International sales: M.G. Prods., Brussels.) Produced by Michael Goldberg. Executive producers, Boris Van Gils, Nicolas Van Malder, Michel Brunelli. Directed, written by Stephan Streker.

Crew: Camera (De Jonghe color), Antoine Roch; editor, Francois Gedigier; music, Louis Vyncke; sound (Dolby Digital), Quentin Jacques; supervising sound editor, Frederic Demolder; assistant director, Boris Vangils. Reviewed at Wilshire screening room, Beverly Hills, June 3, 2004. (In Los Angeles Film Festival.) Running time: 78 MIN.

With: With: Michael Goldberg, Larry Moss, Lily Holbrook, Alfred Carr, Seymour Green, Judi Dickerson, Jake Speer, Frank Bruynbroek , Jonathan Levit , Jacky Fire. (English, French dialogue)

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