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Scenesters, The (DVD Review)

23 Apr, 2011 By: Angelique Flores

Prebook 4/26/11; Street 5/24/11
$26.95 DVD
Rated ‘R’ for language, violent content and brief drug use.
Stars Sherilyn Fenn, Blaise Miller, Suzanne May, Jeff Grace, Kevin M. Brennan, Todd Berger, Monika Jolly, James Jolly, John Landis.

Los Angeles’ eastside is swarming with scenesters. And the comedy group The Vacationeers — Todd Berger, Kevin Brennan, Jeff Grace and Blaise Miller — have made a charming whodunit black comedy-thriller set among the scenesters.

Berger, who directed and wrote the film, plays broke filmmaker Wallace, who is hired as a crime-scene videographer by his local police department. His producer and pal, the hilariously obnoxious Roger (Grace), decides to join Wallace on the job to make more-artistic crime-scene films.

After police have left a couple of crime scenes where L.A. scenesters have been killed, Charlie notices some clues that link the murders. Wallace and Roger then convince Charlie to withhold that information from the police so they can make a documentary about Charlie and his search for the killer.

Interspersed with those scenes are the film-within-a-film documentary, shot in a black-and-white 1950s noir cinema style. And framing the entire film are courtroom scenes, presumably from the murderer’s subsequent trial. While it’s obvious the trial is a device to narrate the story, it works quite well to push things along, explain some unanswered questions and sprinkle in some comedy. It doesn’t hurt to see Sherilyn Fenn as the prosecuting attorney and John Landis’ cameo as the judge.

The Scenesters is like a hipster version of a Christopher Guest (This Is Spinal Tap, Best in Show) movie, but it still carries its own unique flavor, masterfully combining a compelling mystery thriller with snarky comedy. The film also includes music from such bands as Airborne Toxic Event, Her Space Holiday, Le Switch and many others.

One of the best parts of the film is a fake movie preview for a movie made by Wallace, which opens the entire film. I expected more sardonic humor like this pointed at scenesters for the rest of the film, but it was instead aimed at independent filmmakers.

The DVD includes a behind-the-scenes featurette that not only is interesting and informative, but it is almost a comedy in itself. The deleted scenes are great and obviously cut for time and pacing. And there’s a music video for the fictional band Chokehold that pokes fun at indie rock bands.

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