"The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself." — Albert Camus
Quotes from wise elders, including the one above, are sprinkled throughout The Blue Tooth Virgin (now playing in LA and NYC) on attractive cards designed by Yolanda Santosa and Paul Kim. At times they illuminate and at other times they stand in stark contrast to the pseudo-literary mayhem on screen.
The film's writer-director-producer, Russell Brown (Race You to the Bottom), has a keen ear for the inflated, self-important conversation that is often de rigueur among both aspiring and accomplished Hollywood screenwriters. Brown focuses here on longtime friends Sam (Austin Peck, best known as Brad Snyder on As the World Turns) and David (the winning Bryce Johnson). Sam is a struggling screenwriter who once created a well-regarded television series. David, on the other hand, is a magazine editor who claims to have no interest in writing.
When Sam asks David to read and weigh in on his screenplay-in-development, the ensuing rift exposes not only the shallowness of their friendship but the general lack of depth in the Hollywood movie-making machine. Of course, one has only to look at what The Blue Tooth Virgin is opening against — the reportedly lame Fame remake and the sci-fi wanna-be thrillers Surrogates and Pandorum — to see this is true.
Brown's script can be accused of being all talk and no action, but it is intelligent, insightful and often quite funny. The best scene in the film involves Karen Black (who looks great, by the way) as a New Age script consultant/therapist who charges $1,500 an hour.
It is also a very handsome-looking movie thanks to Marco Fargnoli's photography (the influence of his mentor, the great Robert Richardson, is evident) and the editing by Curtiss Clayton and Christopher Munch. Clayton is a veteran of several Gus Van Sant productions, and Munch wrote and directed as well as edited the acclaimed gay-interest films The Hours and Times and Harry and Max.
By the movie's end, viewers will likely agree with Camus on the importance of writers but most will be tempted to thank God we still have books!
Click here to watch the trailer for The Blue Tooth Virgin.
UPDATE: The Blue Tooth Virgin is now available on DVD from Amazon.com.
Review by Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and the Orange County and Long Beach Blade.