Slipstream (review)

This is a tough one to talk about. On the one hand, it’s failure, maybe even a disaster. On the other hand, it’s so fascinating a failure that it’s worth seeing, and worth seeing on a big screen because it’s the kind of film that works best — when it works at all — by dominating your attention in the way that only seeing a film in a darkened theater can. (Alas that it’s opening on only six screens in North America today.) Anthony Hopkins (Bobby), as writer, director, and star, has created a phantasmagorical journey through the psyche of his protagonist screenwriter (if we can even believe that much about the central character) that wends from an L.A. freeway road-rage incident during which bullets fly to a desert movie location where the director is losing a grip on his noirish story to an out-of-control actor (Christian Slater [The Deal], in one of his most interesting performances yet). Is Hopkins’ character slipping in and out of a movie in his imagination, or are we? Playing off the multiple meanings of “to shoot” and weaving in asides about lost plots and screwed-up continuity, snidely hilarious sniping at Hollywood phoniness (John Turturro’s [Transformers] hotshot producer is a hoot), and Twilight Zone-ish appearances by actors out of old black-and-white classics, this is a manic Bugs Bunny cartoon of a head trip that is more enigmatic than enlightening, more experience than explication. But what it loses in lucidity it makes up for in the persuasive confidence of its delusion.

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