Thursday, April 25, 2024

Review from LA: Adam Rifkin’s “Last Movie Star” Resonates More than Ever Now that Film Festivals Are in Chaos


I was thinking about Adam Rifkin’s “Last Movie Star,” starring the late Burt Reynolds, now that film festivals are in chaos. A trenchant movie that will hit home with industry types, “Last Movie Star” has Burt’s character, a down on his luck film star, being honored by a two bit festival in Nashville. It’s very sweet and hits home. A lot.  “The Last Movie Star” is on Amazon Prime.

The film borrows heavily on Reynolds’s career in real life, in the film he plays Vic Edwards, when in the late 1970’s Burt was absolutely the biggest movie star in the world.  From “Smokey And The Bandit,” to “Deliverance” to “Boogie Nights,” and so many more classics.  Burt /Vic was riding high.  Then the fall from grace; with too much hubris, bad career moves and even worse romantic and financial choices.

When Vic is offered a seemingly prestigious life achievement award in Nashville, he’s reluctant at first, but then his old buddy Sonny (Chevy Chase) nudges him to accept. So he grudgingly goes and there he meets and eventually bonds with a young cast of misfits, (Clark Duke, Ellar Coltrane and Ariel, Winter) all who are solid matches for the at times bitter but honest and self-deprecating Vic.  Bottom line, Reynolds shines in his late major role, his cinematic swan song. “Last Movie Star” sweetly, respectfully and with caustic humor, lovingly honors Burt Reynold’s iconic career. (Look for a lovely performance by Kathleen Nolan, and great supporting work from Ariel Winter, Clark Duke, Ellar Coltrane and Chevy Chase.)

Amazon Prime now has two films by Rifkin that should not be missed. Rifkin also is a documentarian with his “Giuseppe Makes A Movie,” a pop culture classic about musician Giuseppe Andrews, a one-time teen actor who was in “Independence Day” and Rifkin’s “Detroit Rock City.”  A filmmaker himself, Andrews has made over 30 experimental features and his idols are Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Luis Bunuel.  Andrew’s actors are people on the fringes, on the margins of society, transients, drug addicts and the like.  Filmed in Ventura, CA, the enormously entertaining Andrews is compelling and as “beautifully eccentric” as he describes his friend.  Rifkin adeptly captures all in a rough and ready, humorous style.

Leah Sydney
Leah Sydney
Leah Sydney writes from Los Angeles for A seasoned journalist with a long history during the halcyon days of the NY Daily News, Leah is a member of the Critics Choice and Rotten Tomatoes.

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