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Delirious Hype Terrorizes Hot Blog Readership

Over at The Hot Blog, David Poland is excited about Delirious, the Tom DiCillo buddy comedy about a mid-grade paparazzi (Steve Buscemi) who employs a homeless wanna-be actor (Michael Pitt) as his assistant. By a fluke of timing, the assistant gets famous, the paparazzi gets jealous; cliched, soundtrack-driven pseudo-hilarity ensues, New York looks nice every sixth or seventh exterior, Alison Lohman walks around in a bra, etc. etc... I mean, the term "etcetera" was in fact coined just for the purpose of abbreviating plot exposition for shitty Sundance entries like this, with their overdoses of montage and bromides ("Rule number one: Friends is friends," the pals remind each other at key melodramatic junctures) and pop-culture didacticism. "Is the press-celebrity complex out of control?" is the question Delirious seems to ask with tongue not in cheek, but flopping from its dense, mouthbreathing skull.

As such, I can't figure out why Poland -- whose contrarian-for-its-own-sake streak traditionally runs hot but who certainly has taste -- could be so upbeat about a straight-to-DVD shelfwarmer:

Sundance 2 - DiCillio [sic] Shocker!!!
Just a quickie, but much to my shock, Delirious is a major-league indie crowd pleaser and could end up being one of the biggest sales of the festival. It isn’t Little Miss Sunshine or Napoleon Dynamite by a $30 million shot. But it has the makings of a cult classic, including a perfect performance by Steve Buscemi, the best use of Michael Pitt aside from Van Sant, and enough extra flavor, whether the hot Gina Gershon as a horny manager and Alison Lohman as a kinder gentler Brittany[sic]ParisLindsay. Lots of eye candy. Lots of showbiz satire that is pretty close to documentary. And a fairly relaxed piece altogether.

Admittedly, Poland has a more sensitive finger on the pulse of the Sundance "crowd" than I do on Day 3, but he also overlooks Bully and The Dreamers in the Michael Pitt canon, so don't choke on your grain of salt. And indeed, this would be a cult classic if the cult comprised, say, Peter Travers, Mark S. Allen and Earl Dittman. Most troubling, however, is Poland's perception of "lots of showbiz satire that is pretty close to documentary." This is just a flat-out misrepresentation of Delirious; what "satire" there is comes steeped in groaning self-awareness (a gossip TV show called Access Tonight! Brilliant!) and a style no closer to documentary than The Life Aquatic's was to that of a nature film. Please do not attend this movie if you expect anything approximating real life, with the notable exception of accurately depicting publicists' general contempt of party reporters. Come to think of it, please do not attend this film period -- not with excellent, thought-provoking comedies like Great World of Sound (a more genuine star-culture critique than Delirious will ever be) and Rocket Science lurking in the program.

As for Poland, I'll never know, though it seems there are limits to my befuddlement -- at least he got Teeth right.

Posted at January 20, 2007 7:29 PM

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