Slipstream [2005]

For years, George Lucas has talked about going back to directing avant-garde films with limited commercial potential that would be bound to confound audiences. Venerable actor Sir Anthony Hopkins, 70, went ahead and did it with this daring, provocative dream-within-a-dream, movie-within-a-movie. Part David Lynch, part Pirandello, it throws viewers into the deep end of this "looking glass world" and "mad hatter's tea party." This much we know: Hopkins (who wrote, directed, and even composed the musical score) stars as a screenwriter, Felix Bonhoeffer. Most everything else is up for grabs. Slipstream unfolds in fractured fits and starts. Christian Slater and Jeffrey Tambor portray two actors in a wildly troubled movie ("the whole thing is going to hell in a hand basket" someone proclaims). John Turturro appears as a manic producer in a performance that makes his turn in Transformers look like a model of understatement. There is a Dolly Parton look-alike who introduces herself as "Dolly Parton Look-alike." Kevin McCarthy, star of Invasion of the Body Snatchers), turns up as a dottering incarnation of himself. There is an in-joke about "Hopkins" doing Hannibal 4. Fantasy and reality become interchangeable as Felix is visited by his characters ("You killed me in Scene 23," one protests. "I've got the script"). But that's only the beginning… or maybe the end, as the case may be. Slipstream is thrilling in a "what the what?" sort of way, and repeated viewings will reward adventurous viewers trying to plumb its secrets. --Donald Liebenson

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