‘THE QUEEN OF HOLLYWOOD BLVD’ written and directed by Orson Oblowitz is now available On Demand starring Rosemary Hochschild, Ana Mulvoy Ten, and Roger Guenveur Smith. The story follows Mary, a streetwise owner of a strip club that on her 60th birthday is visited by a man from her past. He tells her that a two-decade old debt she has with the mob is due for payment, with interest. Something that will cause Mary’s day to spiral out of control with violent repercussions.
Before going into this review, I feel it must be stated that this film was the debut for Oblowitz from both a writing and directorial aspect. Not everyone can hit a home-run in their first at bat. Not everyone is going to craft a masterpiece with their first script, or initial time working behind the camera. When watching an artist’s first-time project, I look for cohesion and capability in their specific aspect of the film. I also look for focus in the tone of a story, the level of effort shown. And most important, how much of an enjoyable viewing experience did it create in terms of flow, and film crafting overall.
There were some flaws in this gritty look at the seedy side of Los Angeles. But there were also some positives. I thought the performance from Hochschild was effective at times to create a fractured character. She conveyed a person that had been through many tough years. A person that was broken from her past but not to the point she lost her fight. She was calculating, and cold on the outside but with the performance of Hochschild I was able to capture a sense that there was much more to her below the surface.
However, this persona did feel too lifeless at times as the character had many repetitive scenes throughout the story-line. Hochschild without question created some emotional energy at times but during too many scenes the character felt lacking some intensity that could have appeal more to the viewer. Ana Mulvoy Ten brought some sincerity to her character regardless of a lack of depth to the role on paper. Smith was also serviceable for the generic template of his villainous story-arc and minimal screen-time.
There were aspects of the story that were nicely crafted to create some sleazy appeal. But there were also many other scenes and subplots that felt too much like a tapestry of various dynamics from other past gritty films in the genre. There were chances in this film where the plot could have gone in different directions that would have made the story feel much more active. As it was it felt like a slow-burn that built genuine interest but came short of intriguing.
The plot could have made a few more stops to capture the grimy underbelly of Los Angeles. It could have explored the characters much deeper to weave some genuine connections to them. The dialogue could have also gone a little further into the conversations to resonate with the viewer and not feel superficial. But instead the result was a grungy crime-drama that took a very long time to go a very short distance and in the end, felt underwhelming.
From a technical aspect the camerawork was solid at times, but it was repetitive during many others with too much of a reliance of close-ups and still shots. The Los Angeles locations were nicely selected, and the styling had a mildly funky vibe that caught the eye. There were some solid scenes but overall it was a slow watch that didn’t hit with the impact it could have. It had a quirky over-coating but even it felt a little too Tarantino-esque. I wanted more out of this movie and felt the concept of the story could have chosen a more creative path to follow. But it was still a solid film from a first-time writer and director and I’m looking forward to seeing what’s next from Orson Oblowitz.