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The Anniversary Party

Directors/Writers:Jennifer Jason Leigh and Alan Cumming
Fine Line Features; R; 115 minutes
Cast:Jennifer Jason Leigh, Alan Cumming, Parker Posey, Gwyneth Paltrow

The Anniversary Party, written and directed by actors Jennifer Jason Leigh and Alan Cumming, is an artsy film made for people who like Hollywood. It was shot over three weeks on handheld video and maintains the piecemeal improvised feel of a Dogma picture. The party in question is Joe and Sally's (Cumming and Leigh) six-year anniversary. Their troubled marriage has yielded a best-selling book for Joe, which is being turned into a movie he's scheduled to direct. To celebrate, they've invited their colleagues: the cutthroat West Coast culture of celebrities and wannabes. Still, everybody keeps things more or less under wraps until Skye (Gwyneth Paltrow) shows up with a bag of ecstasy to unravel the insecure thirtysomethings.

A winning freshness clings to The Anniversary Party. The themes, of course, are tired beyond belief. Who needs to hear about how rich and famous white people have difficulty maintaining meaningful personal lives? But the actors go at the material with zest, and a loose, Altman-like correspondence between characters and scenes creates a whole that's more rewarding that the sum of its petty power players' parts.

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