The Anniversary Party (2001)

(In theaters, September 2001) The difference between low-budget independent films made by nobodies and low-budget films made by famous actors is that the latter type of movies features faces you know. Otherwise, we’re back to the whining cheap drama and meaningless existential crises that seem to pop up with depressing regularity in budding author’s film. In this case, Allan Cummings and Jennifer Jason Leigh star together in a film written and directed by themselves, and they’ve invited every one of the famous friends to star in the film. The setup is simple, an anniversary party where the celebrated couple isn’t too stable and most of the guests are as screwed-up as their hosts. Seductions, jealousy pangs, drug usage, weird hairdos, nude scenes, fights and a death ensue. You might start to care late in the film. The cast is stellar (Gwynneth Paltrow, Kevin Kline, Phoebe Cates, John C. Reilley, Parker Posey, etc…) and some of them even get naked… but not those who should. Best considered not as a happy-shiny piece of entertainments, but at a very personal reflection on love, friendship, relationships and the transitory nature of such.

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