The Bye Bye Man
The Bye Bye Man is the kind of film that is so boring and bereft of anything of possible interest that it becomes infuriating.
To be a movie star and a good actor and a happy person is so difficult that Meryl Streep may be the only living person who has achieved it. Maybe Paul Newman, later in life. Okay, Tilda Swinton, Catherine Keener and Morgan Freeman. Maybe Frances McDormand.
I know such speculation is goofy, but it's how I feel after seeing "Ellie Parker," a daring and truthful film by Scott Coffey, starring Naomi Watts as an actress who is trying to get a start in Los Angeles. It is one of the ironies of this film about a failing actress that it only got made because a successful actress (the star of "King Kong" no less) agreed to appear in it. You'd think they could have given the job to someone who needed the job, but then they couldn't have lined up the financing, modest as it is.
This is the movie they should show in college acting classes, instead of tapes of "Inside the Actors' Studio." It is about auditioning for an idiotic Southern Gothic soap opera and then changing your makeup and accent in the car on your way to audition as a hooker in a soft-core sex film. About trying to impress a group of "producers" who are so stoned they don't have a sober brain cell to pass from hand to hand around the room. About suspecting that the only thing worse than not getting the job would be to get it. About being broke. About depending on your friends, who are your friends because they depend on you. About lying to the folks back home. About going to clubs to be "seen" and getting so wasted you hope no one saw you, and about suspecting that while you were in a blackout your genitals may have been leading a life of their own. And it is about having to be smart, talented, beautiful, determined and, yes, lucky, just to get to this point in your career.
"Ellie Parker" follows its heroine through about 24 hours of her life. Maybe more. I'm not sure and neither is she. The character is played by Watts with courage, fearless observation, and a gift for timing that is so uncanny it can make points all by itself. Watts, as Parker, is so familiar with her look, her face, her hair, her style, her makeup that she can transform herself from a belle to a slut in the rear-view mirror while driving from one audition to another, and convince us that she really could do that, and has.