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Pete Smalls Is Dead -- Film Review
By Karsten Kastelan, October 12, 2010 10:38 ET
Bottom Line: Quirky Hollywood satire by Alexandre Rockwell suffers from an abundance of ingredients.
BERLIN -- Alexandre Rockwell's "Pete Smalls Is Dead" is a sometimes funny, sometimes irritating romp through the bowels of the seedier Hollywood that misses more often than it scores. Mostly, it's kept alive by its cast and sheer audacity.

The combined wattage of Peter Dinklage, Tim Roth and Steve Buscemi, as well as assorted colorful moments, should ensure further festival appearances and decent international sales for DVD and television. Chances for theatrical play are thin.

The film centers on KC (Dinklage), a former screenwriter who bides his time as the proprietor of a Laundromat back east. When his dog is kidnapped by loan sharks, KC reaches out to his friend Jack (Mark Boone Junior), who promises to front him the $10,000 ransom if KC comes to Los Angeles to attend the funeral of their late friend Pete Smalls (Roth), a famous Hollywood director.

Once in California, KC quickly surmises that something is rotten in the city of dreams -- and it can't be Pete's corpse because it is nowhere to be found. Same goes for the 10 grand Jack promised him, which leads to the two buddies trying to get the money by selling the rights to Pete's current, momentarily unfinished film.

Becomes it's never clear what the two mavericks mean to sell or why anybody would be interested, their misadventures are rather random and pointless. Once KC hits L.A., which apparently is all the director wants to achieve, all kinds of crazy characters and situations are unleashed: Smarmy Z-level producers (Buscemi, Michael Lerner), the Armenian mob, an attractive French editor (Theresa Wayman) and a lab heist (as opposed to a bank heist) in panda costumes are only some of the elements KC has to face before he can get his beloved canine back and come to terms with Smalls, who screwed him in a business deal and thereby ended his career.

Dinklage delivers a wonderfully grounded performance as the wounded writer. He tries to anchor the film in all but its wildest moments but experiences tough going against some of his castmates: Buscemi and Lerner's producers are simply too weird and creepy to be taken seriously, and Roth's performance is Tarantino-on-acid where a sober Tarantino would more than have sufficed. Junior, on the other hand, goes off in the opposite direction, handling his role just competently, where the anarchic craziness of a Zach Galifianakis is needed.

Technical credits are adequate, with the use of less-filmed corners of Los Angeles providing fresh imagery.

Venue: Oldenburg International Film Festival
Production: Pete Smalls
Cast: Peter Dinklage, Mark Boone Junior, Tim Roth, Steve Buscemi, Theresa Wayman, Ritchie Coster, Rosie Perez, Emily Rios, Michael Lerner, Seymour Cassel
Director: Alexandre Rockwell
Screenwriters: Brandon Cole, Alexandre Rockwell
Producers: Brandon Cole, Peter Dinklage, Paul Hudson, Dan Keston, Jennifer Li, Alexandre Rockwell, Sean-Michael Smith
Executive producers: Braxton Pope, Ken Locsmandi, Ted Schipper, Martin Honan
Director of photography: Kai Orion
Production designer: Alessandro Marvelli
Music: Mader
Costume designer: Annie Laurie Abriel
Editor: Jarrah Gurrie, Josiah Signor
No rating, 94 minutes

Pete Smalls Is Dead -- Film Review
By Karsten Kastelan, October 12, 2010 10:38 ET
Bottom Line: Quirky Hollywood satire by Alexandre Rockwell suffers from an abundance of ingredients.
BERLIN -- Alexandre Rockwell's "Pete Smalls Is Dead" is a sometimes funny, sometimes irritating romp through the bowels of the seedier Hollywood that misses more often than it scores. Mostly, it's kept alive by its cast and sheer audacity.

The combined wattage of Peter Dinklage, Tim Roth and Steve Buscemi, as well as assorted colorful moments, should ensure further festival appearances and decent international sales for DVD and television. Chances for theatrical play are thin.

The film centers on KC (Dinklage), a former screenwriter who bides his time as the proprietor of a Laundromat back east. When his dog is kidnapped by loan sharks, KC reaches out to his friend Jack (Mark Boone Junior), who promises to front him the $10,000 ransom if KC comes to Los Angeles to attend the funeral of their late friend Pete Smalls (Roth), a famous Hollywood director.

Once in California, KC quickly surmises that something is rotten in the city of dreams -- and it can't be Pete's corpse because it is nowhere to be found. Same goes for the 10 grand Jack promised him, which leads to the two buddies trying to get the money by selling the rights to Pete's current, momentarily unfinished film.

Becomes it's never clear what the two mavericks mean to sell or why anybody would be interested, their misadventures are rather random and pointless. Once KC hits L.A., which apparently is all the director wants to achieve, all kinds of crazy characters and situations are unleashed: Smarmy Z-level producers (Buscemi, Michael Lerner), the Armenian mob, an attractive French editor (Theresa Wayman) and a lab heist (as opposed to a bank heist) in panda costumes are only some of the elements KC has to face before he can get his beloved canine back and come to terms with Smalls, who screwed him in a business deal and thereby ended his career.

Dinklage delivers a wonderfully grounded performance as the wounded writer. He tries to anchor the film in all but its wildest moments but experiences tough going against some of his castmates: Buscemi and Lerner's producers are simply too weird and creepy to be taken seriously, and Roth's performance is Tarantino-on-acid where a sober Tarantino would more than have sufficed. Junior, on the other hand, goes off in the opposite direction, handling his role just competently, where the anarchic craziness of a Zach Galifianakis is needed.

Technical credits are adequate, with the use of less-filmed corners of Los Angeles providing fresh imagery.

Venue: Oldenburg International Film Festival
Production: Pete Smalls
Cast: Peter Dinklage, Mark Boone Junior, Tim Roth, Steve Buscemi, Theresa Wayman, Ritchie Coster, Rosie Perez, Emily Rios, Michael Lerner, Seymour Cassel
Director: Alexandre Rockwell
Screenwriters: Brandon Cole, Alexandre Rockwell
Producers: Brandon Cole, Peter Dinklage, Paul Hudson, Dan Keston, Jennifer Li, Alexandre Rockwell, Sean-Michael Smith
Executive producers: Braxton Pope, Ken Locsmandi, Ted Schipper, Martin Honan
Director of photography: Kai Orion
Production designer: Alessandro Marvelli
Music: Mader
Costume designer: Annie Laurie Abriel
Editor: Jarrah Gurrie, Josiah Signor
No rating, 94 minutes
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