If you're a documentary filmmaker, Troy Duffy is your dream subject. Ultra-cocky and apparently unaware of his own megalomaniacal image on camera, the New England-bred bartender/musician-turned-filmmaker presents the kind of character that director Mark Brian Smith only needs point at and shoot, knowing that Duffy himself will provide the drama.
There's no flash here. What "Overnight" delivers is a fascinating, straightforward portrait of Duffy's mercurial Hollywood rise and fall, beginning the day in 1997 that Miramax's Harvey Weinstein not only bought his script for the Boston-set crime thriller "The Boondock Saints" but also agreed to buy Duffy a Los Angeles bar and let his band (the Brood) do the film's soundtrack. A few months later, Duffy couldn't get Weinstein to return his calls, and no studio wanted to touch his script (though the film did eventually get made).
There may well be another side to Duffy's arrogant implosion, but without knowing what's on the cutting room floor we can only say that what's here is the hubristic stuff of Greek tragedy, and it makes for delicious viewing -- unfortunately at Duffy's expense.
`Being Julia' In Istvan Szabo's period film, based on W. Somerset Maugham's "Theatre," Annette Bening gives a wickedly funny tour-de-force performance as a fashionable 1930s London leading lady. She glides seamlessly between onstage melodrama and an offstage sexual reawakening, driving a story that culminates in a third act of laugh-out-loud showbiz revenge. Jeremy Irons is typically sharp as her husband, and Shaun Evans is quite convincing as the young American social climber who seduces her. But it is Bening who commands this show from beginning to end.
`Bright Young Things' Then there's the other side of 1930s London, the one where high society isn't so much theatrically puffed up as it is untalented, truly wicked, and in need of a good skewering. This is the turf of Stephen Fry's adaptation of Evelyn Waugh's comic novel "Vile Bodies." In this debut directing effort, Fry seems to be trying out all his filmmaking techniques, forcing together a mix of visual elements that doesn't always mesh or fit the period. The biggest problem is that his characters are shallow and tedious, which is sort of the point, but it doesn't make them any easier to watch.