FOOTPRINTS (director/writer: Steven Peros; cinematographer: Adam Teichman; editor: Travis Rust; music: Christopher Caliendo; cast: Sybil Temtchine (Daisy), H. M. Wynant (Victor), Pippa Scott (Genevieve Kent), Charley Rossman (Mike the Tour Guide),John Brickner (Eddie), Riley Weston (Super Girl), Catherine Bruhier(Cat Woman), Joe Roseto (Scientology auditor), Kirk Bovill(Solitary Stranger), R.J. Cantu (Manny, worker at a Hollywood book & poster shop), Jeris Lee Poindexter (Black Homeless Man), Jim Braswell (realtor); Runtime: 80; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: John Peros/Steven Peros; Our Gal Pictures; 2009)
“Mostly appealing and thought provoking adult Hollywood fairy tale.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Playwright turned filmmaker Steven Peros (director of “The Undying” and the screenwriter for Peter Bogdanovich’s 2002 film “The Cat’s Meow”)is the writer-director to this mostly appealing and thought provoking adult Hollywood fairy tale. It’s a valentine to Hollywood, that examines the Hollywood myth and gushes over with bemusement why so many are drawn to believe in it. The fantasy film is filled with sentimentality and nostalgia, as seen through the dream-like vision of a thirty-something amnesia-stricken woman searching for her identity, her lost memory and her sense of history in a Hollywood, far uglier in person than from afar, that’s inhabited by the homeless, drifters, hustlers, dreamers, wannabe stars, your average American and tourists.
An unnamed amnesiac, with no money or ID, later given the name Daisy (Sybil Temtchine) by a former B-movie actress, awakens she thinks from a dream and is found in a dazed state by a ranting black homeless man (Jeris Lee Poindexter) accusing Hollywood of being a racist place and then is found by a Hollywood tour guide (Charley Rossman), who rescues her from being sprawled out over the celebrity cement footprints and hand-prints of Grauman’s Chinese Theater. The tour guide treats her to breakfast in a nearby coffee shop. In order to discover her identity, the lost soul goes passively from one encounter to another on the tacky Hollywood Boulevard instead of being brought to a hospital for help. The mystery gal is only able to recall the word “fountain boy,”seeing the film The Heiress (1949), and some lines from Edgar Allan Poe’s poem “A Dream Within a Dream.” The innocent protagonist will meet an assortment of Hollywood dwellers that include the ghost-like elegant but mysterious Victor (H. M. Wynant), someone who maybe was a long-ago deceased studio actor and might have known the lost soul back in the good old days. Meanwhile the protagonist is frightened by the glowering image of a stranger (Kirk Bovill), who will never be explained but appears only to her as he pops up a few more times and then suddenly vanishes. Then our gal hooks up with an unemployed black actress (Catherine Bruhier), who talks her into dressing up like Wonder Woman to earn some fast money from tourists by posing for photos with her costumed as Cat Woman. Next comes a well-dressed Scientology recruiter (Joe Roseto), on the sidewalk outside the Scientology Center building, who gives her a free stress test and tries to lure her to join his cult because it helped the star Tom Cruise. The mystery gal also meets the chatty older actress Genevieve Kent (Pippa Scott), who appeared in the 1957 film Lola The Tiger Woman and is waiting outside the Egyptian Theater for the doors to open for a special revival showing of that neglected exploitation film. I should also mention that our heroine has her inner thoughts heard by us through a continuous voice over.
The pic sets a serene dream-like mood, where the heroine goes through a series of adventures to discover who she is while seemingly the pic avoids the dangerous reality that its heroine is out-of-her-mind and stuck in such a seedy urban setting. The pic goes overboard on whimsey while seemingly laying a good joke on the viewer about a Hollywood that defies being the same for every generation. In the day long narrative, there’s no sense of urgency or any sense we were watching a ‘damsel-in-distress’ movie. Instead it paints an artificially rosy picture of an over-friendly Hollywood where strangers are mostly helpful, where dreams can come through and where you can become whoever you want to be if the gods of fortune shine upon you and you get an invite to where the power-moguls congregate. It leaves us with the pleasing feeling that one can vanish (like into a black hole) and yet magically come back from wherever to try one’s luck again.
The ‘once upon a time’ fairy tale story offers many pleasant and informative moments about Hollywood (even if some are ridiculously presented, like the one where helpful strangers tell the lost soul heroine anecdotesof the tragedies endured by Gene Tierney and Rita Hayworth instead of taking her to a hospital for treatment) and it paints a questionable empathetic pretty picture of modern-day street-life on Hollywood Boulevard, one with a Hooters, that leaves us perhaps feeling as hustled as those gawking tourists on the tour bus, as we never know for sure what’s real or a figment of the heroine’s imagination. The whimsical film might be a small gem to those who feel it is on course in taking us over such a layered Tinseltown mythology. Other viewers might find it to be a strangely drawn derivative David Lynch type of Hollywood film, that hauntingly brings up old Hollywood ghosts who might find or not find again what they thought they lost in the past. Either way, it’s an engaging film that promotes Hollywood as still being the best place where impossible dreams can happen to anyone who still believes in fairy tales.
REVIEWED ON 12/2/2011 GRADE: B+
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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