Hopkins Indulges Himself in 'Slipstream'
To sit through it, you need to bring an exceptionally good mood and a high tolerance for artistic self-indulgence. Anthony Hopkins, both star and director, clearly decided to put together a top-notch cast and revel in as many film-school novelties as he could come up with. Scenes of reality, memory, fantasy and delusion are rapid-fire intercut in a scenario that includes a film-within-a-film. Midway in a harrowing scene, someone yells "Cut," and we're watching a movie about the making of a movie.
But "Slipstream" is more complicated, so that now it's a movie, now it's a movie-within-a-movie, back to plain movie and then even movie-within-a-movie-within-a-movie. It's all too befuddling to be deciphered--or taken seriously. With great players including Christian Slater, John Turturro, Camryn Manheim and Hopkins' wife, Stella Arroyave, "Slipstream" is a cinephile's orgy, replete with all manner of movie allusions and in-jokes, most notably (and tiresomely) venerable Kevin McCarthy on hand to alternate with snippets from his cult claim to fame, "Invasion of the Body Snatchers."
Both fulgent and indulgent, it's fun to watch, if you accept less narrative logic than in "Blue Velvet" and more hallucinogenic colors than in "The Trip" and "Zabriskie Point" combined. A bright yellow convertible instantly turns pink. Like, wow, man.
"Slipstream" centers on a mysterious figure named Felix (Hopkins), a screenwriter who may or may not really be making a movie, who may or may not have been shot on a freeway, who may or may not be having a stroke or suffering from bipolar disorder. All these uncertainties enable Hopkins to film a series of short mini-dramas that intersect, occur and recur, or may all be part of a movie shoot and/or Felix's disordered mind. The result is fun but silly, audacious overkill that makes Fellini's "81/2"--just one of the many classics that come to mind--seem like kitchen realism.
Hopkins adds heft with his soft, genteel, misty-eyed visage hinting at great depth. Slater revels in his snarling, bad-boy image, evoking Marlon Brando-like indulgence in a sequence that's also an homage to "The Petrified Forest." Jeffrey Tambor is funny and unsettling as his sidekick, but Turturro is way over the top in yet another send-up of Harvey Weinstein. Fionnula Flanagan is delicious as an aged Hollywood diva.
So "Slipstream" has its moments if you're in the mood for vibrant photographic tricks (thanks to cinematographer Dante Spinotti) and wacky mind games. But don't expect a payoff of the likes of "Memento." This one's strictly cinema for cinema's sake, void of any satisfying resolution.
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