Saturday, December 10, 2005

INSERTS (1975) - John Byrum

Technically, Inserts doesn’t take place in the ‘70s (it’s the ‘30s or 40’s, I think). But it was made in the ‘70s and has that ‘70s burn out vibe seeping into every inch of its frame. Booze, smack, porno, loose morals, limp dicks. You get the picture.
   
I’m talking about Hollywood, of course. And apparently tinsel town is the same in any decade.
Richard Dreyfuss plays a once-great silent movie director now reduced to filming gratuitous porn loops in the living room of his rotting Hollywood mansion. Apparently, he can’t get a job in the talkies, bathes in his swimming pool (the water has been shut off), and drinks cognac from morning until midnight. His latest couple d’ jour is a brazenly forthright junkie (Veronica Cartwright) and a clueless young stud called Rex the Wonder Dog (Stephen Davies).
 
Pretty soon, Dreyfuss’s sleazy producer benefactor Big Mac (Bob Hoskins) shows up with his latest young chippie in tow (Jessica Harper) to pay Cartwright in smack. This leads to an O.D., which leads to a hasty body dump, which leads to a desperate Dreyfuss deciding to use the new chippie to shoot the “inserts” he needs to finish the movie while Big Mac and Rex are disposing of the corpse. But as you can guess from their prominence in the title, these simple Inserts will prove more demanding and character-redefining than your average beaver shot.
 
Inserts is entertaining mainly because the sleaze and malaise factor keeps you kind of riveted. But the movie doesn’t really take you anywhere that you haven’t gone before in other movies about washed-up Hollywood. The difference is it’s all fall with no rise, the last half-hour of Boogie Nights locked into one room with people about as likeable as those in Hurly Burly. Mind you, that’s not a dig. I would go see that movie if described to me as such.
 
The acting is solid across the board, Veronica Cartwright a particular standout. Dreyfuss sheds his Duddy Kravitz persona and then some playing a very unlikeable and chauvinistic character (he gets his subjects to disrobe with the phrase “Show me the meat”). Of course, being a washed-up director (and a porn director at that) it’s a prerequisite that he must have an impotence problem to be resolved in the course of the movie as well as a hang-up about not wanting to be in front of his own camera. But in the manner of a porn loop, with Inserts we end up kinda where we started. Spent, depressed, washed-up, and slightly drunk. And all this even before lunch.

1 comment:

Robby Cress said...

Great review of "Inserts!" I recently just saw the film on the big screen at the Egyptian theatre in Hollywood. Writer/Director John Byrum was there to discuss the making of the film. It was interesting to hear how the project came together. Because the film takes place all in one setting I had originally thought that maybe Byrum had written the story for the theatre. Apparently, it was an issue of money. I'm sure it wasn't easy finding financing for a film that was originally X rated.