Full Frontal

All right already-we get the point about reality and fiction,...

My two children working in Hollywood could verify that Steven Soderbergh's "Full Frontal" captures some of the neurotic self-indulgence and egocentrism of that powerful colony. But then David Lynch did a much more challenging analysis of Hollywood actors and the relationship to their roles in "Mulholland Drive," and Tim Robbins just plain had more fun skewering the motion-picture process in "The Player."

In "Full Frontal" stars like Julia Roberts and Brad Pitt are playing other roles in movies within the movie within the movie, not a new idea and not smoothly done. Everyone seems to be making a circuitous path to the David Duchovny Hollywood-producer's 40th birthday party. Making the trip rough are cliched techniques like grainy film, underexposure, out-of-focus, hand-held jitters to give the effect of home movies or cinema verite as it used to be called.

All this has been done from Woody-Allen Manhattan realism to "Blair- Witch" nauseating jolts. All right already-we get the point about reality and fiction, but don't make us sit through half the film wishing for the other steady, clear half. Somehow Director Steven Soderbergh's "Traffic" handled the camera vagaries much better and told a much more powerful story.

Soderbergh says his movie is about our "efforts to connect" and "issues of an audience and its attempts to connect with a movie, and where aesthetics come into play in trying to forge that connection." His objective camera in "Sex, Lies, and Videotape" showed more about connections than all the arty effects of this film. It is fun, however, to see Julia Roberts and Blair Underwood play roles and then play the actors playing the roles. Not a revelation, but for a movie voyeur like me, always titillation.

This director makes the sometimes-inscrutable bard seem the essence of clarity, for instance from "A Comedy of Errors":

"And here we wander in illusions:
Some blessed power deliver us from hence."

Some Power please deliver us from the pretentious, self-conscious Hollywood illusion that we really yearn anymore for a look inside Hollywood.