Monday, April 14, 2008

Wednesday Again

When struggling Hollywood tabloid journalist Edward “Wag” Tamic (Richmond Arquette) gets a once-in-a-lifetime lead about an A-list actor’s sordid personal life, he thinks he’s found the story that will turn his career around. But in a city this corrupt, and when even the newspapers are on the movie studios’ payroll, will Wag’s scoop ever see the light of day?

Wag works for Privy, a Variety-esque tabloid staffed by not-so-honorable journalists who make a living writing about even less honorable Hollywood stars. Privy is slashing the budget, and Wag quickly goes from full-time staff writer to freeloading freelancer almost overnight. Unemployed, he spends most of his time with his friends, who are always trying to justify their chosen careers to themselves and each other. They’re paparazzi, gossip writers, and celebrity locators. Their relationships are all somewhat incestuous, as they buy and sell information from each other in order to keep their tenuous careers afloat.

One such piece of information comes to Wag from a longtime tipster, but it won’t be cheap. The asking price for this tidbit is $5000, but this is a story that definitely will be worth it. A reliable source has it that A-List Hollywood actor Dan Marr makes frequent trips to Venezuela in order to enjoy the company of the underage local girls. Wag doesn’t believe it at first, but his mind is quickly changed when he hears an audio recording of Marr’s arrest and interrogation in a Venezuelan police station. Yes, Marr has been arrested for this before, but his agent and the movie studio paid off the police and buried the story. But now Wag has a tape – irrefutable proof that he should be able to sell to the highest bidder in the States. Unfortunately, Wag finds that L.A. is a changing town where anyone, provided they have a good enough agent, can roam the streets.

While Wednesday Again primarily focuses on Wag’s attempt to break this story, you’ll want to pay special attention to the unfolding subplot involving his friend, a young paparazzi named Todd who spends his days digging up the dirt on celebrities, though he may have more skeletons in his closet than they do. Todd’s story may seem out of place at first – his budding romance with a young actress doesn’t seem to make sense when punctuating the larger plot’s narrative. But as the story progresses, we realize that Wednesday Again is every bit as much Todd’s story as it is Wag’s. Todd and Wag have to make some serious changes in their lives. But when they find a new direction, are they moving on, or just running from their problems?

Director John Lavachielli is an actor and writer (you may have seen him on The Practice or watched an episode he wrote of Beverly Hills, 90210), but this is first time directing a feature film. His direction is confident and assured, and he works well with a young cast of talented actors. Richmond Arquette is every bit as talented as his Arquette family name implies, and Brad Heller, who plays Todd, does a fine job of stealing scenes without even letting you know he’s stolen them. He silently helps the movie flow, masquerading as mere comic relief until his character becomes a major player in the story.

While Arquette, Lavachielli, and Heller are all very talented artists with bright futures on the horizon, perhaps the biggest find in Wednesday Again is the amazing music from singer/songwriter Sarabeth Tucek, who provides what is easily the best original soundtrack you’ll find at the festival this year. A mix of Nico, Natalie Merchant, and Mazzy Star, Tucek has a rich voice and a unique intonation that is sure to catch your ear. Already on her way to success (she recently opened for Bob Dylan, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, and Ray Lamontagne), Wednesday Again is a great introduction to this wonderful emerging artist.

This is an engaging story that unfolds into something quite unexpected. Wednesday Again is a nice companion piece to Chinatown (playing April 24th at the Fox Theatre), as they’re both nostalgic for the old Hollywood. A city, as Roger Ebert writes in his review of Chinatown, that “you can glimpse in the backgrounds of old movies, where the sun beats down on streets that are too wide, and buildings seem more defiant than proud.” And this nostalgia for the dying Hollywood (or maybe the lost Hollywood) works so well in Wednesday because, while Hollywood is essentially the main character, it’s never shown in any real way. There are no glamorized shots of Rodeo Drive, or cheery shots of the “Hollywood” sign. It’s always mentioned but never visualized. It’s a noticeable absence from the film, and in the minds of these characters, the city itself, the real city, is just as absent.

Wednesday Again offers a smart script, solid acting, and a wonderful soundtrack. This is a great little film that is a welcome addition to the lineup of solid features at this year’s festival.

Wednesday Again is playing on Saturday, April 19th at 9:30 p.m. at The Screening Room.

Visit Sarabeth Tucek's MySpace page --


Mia said...

Flashes across the country are warming up to capture Wednesday Again!

Mia said...

And this is a great way to celebrate Tucson Young Professionals Day!

Karin said...

A friend took me to a cast and crew screening in L.A. and I saw this!! Unique smart film, I loved it.