David Hyde Pierce may be best known for his role as Niles Crane on the hit comedy series, “Frasier,” but it only makes his performance in this darkly comical indie gem from writer/director Nick Tomnay that much more effective. The film stars Clayne Crawford as John Taylor, a career criminal who robs a bank and then cons his way into the home of Warwick Wilson (Pierce) under the pretense that they share a fellow acquaintance. Ever the consummate host, Warwick invites John to stay as a guest of his dinner party, completely unaware that he’s on the run from the police. But when his secret is revealed and he tries to bully Warwick into being his hostage, the tables are turned on John when he discovers that Warwick isn’t exactly who he appears to be.
A psychological thriller where nothing is as it seems, “The Perfect Host” may have more twists and turns than you would expect given the film’s seemingly straightforward plot, but most of them work surprisingly well without feeling cheap or contrived. Though the ending isn’t nearly as clever as it thinks due to the events that precede it, the performances are strong enough to keep you engaged throughout its taut 93-minute runtime. Crawford holds his own as the bank robber who becomes more of a victim with each passing scene, but it’s Pierce who steals the show as the title character – a human onion that slowly peels back the layers of his not-so-normal psyche much to John’s terror. Those only familiar with Pierce’s work on “Frasier” will definitely be in for a pleasant surprise, because the role allows the actor to step out of his comfort zone and have some fun, and it’s exactly this casting against type that makes the movie so entertaining.
* It’s playing in relatively few theaters in the U.S., but the acclaimed documentary “The Cove” may have already saved the lives of many dolphins in Japan. The film documents a clandestine attempt to expose a regular slaughter of the highly intelligent animals thought by many to be sentient. (As in, self-aware, like humans.) H/t to Christopher Campbell who documents the blogger reaction.
* Are you excited about the Oscars already? Me neither, but those who really want to get into the weeds about the changes in the awards and possibly the ceremony will want to read Steve Pond’s interview of MPAA Executive Director Bruce Davis. It seems the Academy is worried about cash. Who isn’t?
* YouTube is reportedly negotiating with Lionsgate, Warners, and Sony for a possible pay-per-view movie service. You can already see movies on YouTube for free, in chunks of ten minutes. Even in more user-friendly form, I wouldn’t call it an ideal way to watch movies, but having more options is never a bad thing, I suppose.
* If ever there was a guy who’d love David Lynch-influenced musical comedy space westerns, I’d be that guy. But Cory McAlbee’s first entry in that sub-sub- genre, “The American Astronaut” didn’t do a whole lot for me, though he’ knows how to make things look interesting and I liked one of the numbers. Still, give indie filmmaker/musician Cory McAlbee credit for sticking to his musical comedy space western guns while also playing around with formats and self-distributing. As Anne Thompson reminds me, his new entry is a six part serial, “Stingray Sam,” which will be showing in a downtown L.A. movie theater this week and will also be viewable on cell phones.
Here’s the trailer I stole from Ms. Thompson. It works hard to be clever and funny but, except for the part about “I’m not David Hyde Pierce,” I barely cracked a smile as I watched it. Still, McAlbee knows how to create memorable imagery. Maybe you’ll like it better.
Welcome to a new feature here on Premium Hollywood…and, believe me, it’s one I’ve been wanting to premiere for quite some time. I’m someone who enjoys trying new foods and new beverages, and I’ve often thought it would be fun to write a column which gave me the opportunity to write about the experience. Unfortunately, I’m forever buried in DVDs that need to be reviewed. Finally, I had an epiphany: why don’t I figure out a way to combine the two?
Last year, over a quarter million votes helped Voltage win the so-called “DEWmocracy” election, with the taste, name and color of the product all developed by the customers themselves…well, y’know, with a little help from the folks at PepsiCo. (What, like they’re gonna give the yokels all the power?) As the bottle proudly trumpets, it’s your standard Dew brew, but charged with raspberry citrus flavor and ginseng. The color of the beverage is a slightly disconcerting shade of blue, but the raspberry mixes with the traditional Dew flavor rather well, making the taste not so far removed from a Sweet Tart. If it’s icy cold, it goes down fast and smooth…which is good, since it’s so sweet that drinking it slowly may result in you taking awhile to finish the bottle, but caffeine fiends with a sweet tooth will have no problem chugging it down to score the inevitable rush.
When I was pitched the opportunity to check out Voltage, they sent me three bottles of the stuff, so I scoured my to-be-reviewed pile to see if I had three DVDs featuring the same person in some role or other. Lo and behold, I did…and that person’s name was Lea Thompson.