Friday 3 December 2021

British Film Festival - Barrie Pattison casts an eye over BEST SELLERS (Lina Roessler, UK, 2021)

The current British Film Festival offers Best Sellers where personable stars and unfamiliar subject work up some interest in the opening stages but the project sinks under the weight of accumulated clichés and its false basic premise - elderly drunks who swear a lot are not endearing - and are rarely talented. The gifted ones have died early.

There are enough sharp exchanges to get a trailer “You have twenty thousand (Internet) followers. “Christ had followers and that didn’t end well.” “The Bible is a best seller.” However they run out well before the end. 

Aubrey Plaza

Lucy Stanbridge (Aubrey Plaza) has inherited a family boutique publishing house which is on the rocks b
ecause people don’t read books anymore - possibility of hip satire or weak comic clichés. The latter eventuate. The interview with the agent pitching the romance novel set on Mt. Everest (“Two on the Rocks”) is particularly feeble.

A competitor is sniffing round the business and the son is sniffing round Lucy. She and assistant Rachel Spence (Ellen Wong, who makes the most of her negligible role), go through the files trying to activate old contracts most of which are with dead writers. They come upon the fact that one time, one-off hit writer Harris Shaw (Michael Caine) owes them a book. He was last heard of facing assault charges for shooting at trespassers he thought were bears. They drive out to his remote home and go in despite the typeface stickers saying “Piss off” to find Caine leveling a shotgun. Wong’s reading of the line “We’re not bears” is particularly nice.

They face Caine with the contract and cash strapped he later shambles into their office with a trunk manuscript. The contract means either he does a promotion tour or Aubrey gets to edit the MSS. Chaos as she drives him round signings in clubs and bars and, faced with an audience, he pees on the book and repeatedly shouts “Bullshite” which goes instagram viral. Caine becomes famous but no one buys the book. One black guy comes up to the counter but he’s trying to sell Aubrey insurance and offering a copy of the book with every “Bullshite” T-Shirt gets no takers.

However she hits on the idea of having bar room customers read a passage to make up
the Promotion video and drunken Michael sets a stack of his work on fire in a bookstore and is arrested sending his Police ID photo viral with fans buying copies of the book to set on fire - very “Satanic Verses” this.

Michael Caine

It’s about the last chance the movie has, failing with univolving revelations about the first book and the business that provided Aubrey with the trust fund she’s dipping into.

Handling is technically competent. The two leads are sufficiently skilled to make flashes of self-knowledge register - as when Aubrey finds that her academic successes make no impression on Caine and he realises the problems he’s created for her. However by this time the false notes have accumulated along with the running time and conviction has wilted. The father and wife plots don’t register. The US setting is never established putting this in the same basket as other British miserabalist accounts of life in the US like Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool

Worst of all, it fails to provide the break out dramatic role we’re waiting for from Plaza. 

The ginger cat is well trained but fades early.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.