Terrific movie directed by Steven Soderbergh ("Traffic," "Out of Sight," "Sex, Lies and Videotape") and starring Julia Roberts, Blair Underwood, Catherine Keener, David Duchovny and David Hyde Pierce. Soderbergh shot this one in 18 days for under $2 million, using mostly natural sets and lighting.

Rated: R
Running time: 1 hour and 47 minutes
Written by: Coleman Hough

So does life imitate art, or vice versa? Soderbergh fiddles around with that old bromide on screen with this movie, where the viewer is never sure whether what they are watching is *supposed* to be reality or a movie. Once you think you have it down, you're thrown another curve.

Soderbergh makes another nod to his favorite film artist, the fab Francois Truffaut, by borrowing the same idea of Truffaut's classic film "Day for Night," where we watch a Hollywood film being made, yet also catch the behind-the-scenes action involving the stars.

Some spoilers to come, but I tried not to offer many other than to explain the basics.

Okay so this may get confusing.... Julia Roberts plays Francesca (a famous actress) who is playing a journalist named Catherine in a film called "Rendezvous." Catherine falls for the actor she's profiling, named Nicholas. Nicholas is played by emerging TV star Calvin (Blair Underwood). Calvin is getting his big break in a movie starring the real Brad Pitt.

Rendezvous comes at us in stylish 35mm, while the rest of the film is shot in grainy digital. Through the grainy we watch Carl (David Hyde Pierce), who wrote "Rendezvous," deal with his off-her-rocker wife, Lee (Catherine Keener). Lee tries to ease those she fires at work by making them do bizarre things with a plastic globe. Her feelings about her husband alter throughout the movie. How does Carl describe his wife? "She's like a dog who was hit by a car and is still walking, but some very, very important things inside her are damaged." After you witness some of her actions, you realize how incredibly understanding Carl is. Carl has several other problems to deal with- one being getting fired from his job because he prefers to drink his beer from a cup instead of the bottle, and another being his dog gobbling down half a pan of hash brownies.

Other important people we see through the grainy: Lee's sister Linda, a masseuse who is looking to meet up with a man she's met on the Internet, and who also has an interesting encounter with a Hollywood bigwig named Gus (David Duchovny). Linda's Internet man is a small-time theater director in the midst of directing "The Sound and the Fuhrer," the story of our beloved Hitler.

I won't reveal the rest of the film's intricacies, suffice to say everyone in the movie is connected at some point, and they all affect each other in some important manner, whether they know it or not. Even the glimpse of a no-named neighbor dressed as Dracula taking out his trash at one point has an important role: To reinforce the idea that life can seem like a movie sometimes, while movies can sometimes move us because they feel so real.

Soderbergh does a great job with this film, though it is not his absolute best in my opinion. I did get a kick out of the random cameo of Terrance Stamp on the airplane, doing a scene from The Limey, allowing the movies to overlap. Nice touch!

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