Hollywood, I'm Sleeping Over Tonight -- Film Review

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HONG KONG -- Basing this feature documentary on his series "I'm Spending the Night at Your Place," filmmaker Antoine de Maximy raises the stakes by setting out on a pan-American journey. In "Hollywood: I'm Sleeping Over Tonight," de Maximy chronicles his quest to travel from East to West, beginning in New York, and finally crash at a movie star's home (not surprisingly, that doesn't happen).

Slots in documentary festivals are all but guaranteed, and adventurous distributors may be enticed into an art house release.

As the perfect outsider, de Maximy (a dead ringer for Mathieu Amalric) starts in Manhattan and boldly approaches whomever he sees and strikes up a conversation (the footage not used would make for a fascinating doc in its own right). Claiming he wants to meet "the real American people," he asks for dinner and a bed for the night and records every shot.

His glee at receiving positive responses is tangible, as is his amusement when confronted with the various oddballs he meets along the way. Moments with the people he meets at first come off as bland sketches, but the cumulative effect creates an appropriately complex portrait of the most bewildering (for good and bad) country in the world.

"Hollywood" could be referred to as the anti-"Borat." De Maximy's aim is neither to humiliate nor embarrass anyone, nor is it to offer up criticism of contemporary America. His irreverent but affectionate eye and specially designed shoulder-mounted camera -- along with his favorite refrain, "I can come with you?" -- capture some vivid moments that crystallize the reality of the country right now.

After he buys an old hearse and repaints it red (in Texas), things really get going, but the most moving sequences are a train ride with a Vietnam vet about to turn himself in on a gun charge; a tour through New Orleans' Katrina-devastated 9th Ward with a former resident; and dinner at a Navajo home where the disparity between the haves and have-nots is made painfully clear.

While it is funny a great deal of the time without trying to be, "Hollywood" exposes the paranoia, ignorance, curiosity, generosity and tragedy found within the U.S. borders.

Production companies: Bonne Pioche, Canal Plus

Cast: Antoine de Maximy
Director: Antoine de Maximy
Screenwriter: Arnold Boiseau (collaborating writer)
Executive Producer: Laurence Picollec
Producer: Yves Darondeau, Christophe Lioud, Emmanuel Priou
Director of Photography: Antoine de Maximy
Music: Farbrice Viel
Editor: Loic Adelis, Anais Enshaian, Juliette Haubois, Stephane Mazalaigue
Sales: Wild Bunch
No rating, 104 minutes