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Premieres & Events

Guest and Co. Taken Into Consideration at Lincoln Center

"It's kind of tragic I guess," said Christopher Guest about his new film For Your Consideration which screened at a special event Tuesday night at Lincoln Center. Tragic? Obviously this isn't a word typically used to describe a film by the director of Best in Show and A Mighty Wind, but Guest appeared surprisingly serious throughout the evening. Also in attendance were four members of Guest's regular ensemble of players: Catherine O'Hara; Parker Posey; Harry Shearer; and Eugene Levy. Shearer, who misread the name of this site as "The Reefer" with some excitement, seemed to be the only one really having a good time.

(L-R) Eugene Levy, Catherine O'Hara, Christopher Guest, Harry Shearer and Parker Posey arrive at the Walter Reade Theater for Tuesday's special screening of their latest collaboration, For Your Consideration (Photos: Christopher Campbell)

Maybe it's just that the subject being lampooned in the film -- which is just as funny as the rest; don't worry -- is more personal to the troupe than usual: The subject is Oscar buzz, which Guest referred to as, "a virus, essentially," during a Q&A after the screening. The predominantly improvised comedy follows the production of the period drama Home for Purim, which begins to generate media attention for three rumored award-worthy performances. In response to my question of what is worse, Hollywood's obsession with self-congratulation or the media's obsession with feeding it, Guest replied: "They're simply both bad, both horrible. It's all bad."

For Your Consideration is Guest's second film about Hollywood, though he didn't seem to remember his first, The Big Picture, when I asked him to compare the two. I had hoped to get some insight into any animosity he felt toward the movie industry, since he works for the most part outside the studio system and also since he has returned to satirizing the business, but he didn't see any similarities between the two films, and he professed that his latest is not even specifically about the movies.

"Obviously the backdrop is Hollywood," he said "But for me this is more about the specific notion of how people deal with the issue that's in this film. And over the years I've seen many people react to this in many different ways and it was interesting, the emotional toll it takes. Hollywood is the backdrop, but really it is more about what happens to (them)... It's the victim idea."

Guest and Levy, who co-wrote the basic outline for the film, were equally straightforward regarding their decision to make For Your Consideration a narrative film rather than follow the mockumentary style they had used for previous pictures together. "We felt that we had done three, that we'd covered the territory, and we wanted to move on to something else," Guest told the audience at the Walter Reade Theater. In response to whether or not they'll return to the mockumentary style in the future, he added: "I can't say for sure, but I don't think so. I don't know where it continues, but it seems unlikely that we'd go back to that."

Levy described the process on a more mechanical level. "It was interesting to see whether this kind of improvisational format would lend itself to a straight narrative," he said, "because in a documentary you do have techniques that can get you from one laugh to the next, the editing techniques -- jump cutting, going to an interview, whatever. And in a narrative, when people are improvising a scene, you kind of have to stay with the scene, because that's the story. There's no way you can jump in the middle of a scene. Your editing is traditional. So that was challenging. It was a challenging way to go."

I don't want to convey the wrong idea; the cast wasn't exactly humorless, and there were plenty of laughs to be had during the Q&A. Even Guest, who delivered some jokes in a deadpan, matter-of-fact manner, was funny despite his lack of outward elation. He actually had the crowd roaring as he answered a question about studio control and modification on Hollywood productions:

"This is weird but Star Wars was originally Home for Purim. You'd think that was a big jump, but Lucas was under a huge amount of pressure. Yoda was a mohel. But the studio got involved and..."

OK, so maybe you had to be there for that one. -- Christopher Campbell

Posted at November 8, 2006 9:20 AM

Comments (1)

Thanks for this story, I'm looking forward to the latest film from this great ensemble cast. I wasn't aware that it wasn't a mockumentary, but rather a straightforward narrative. This won't affect my decision to see it, I'll be there. - Randy

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