Monday, May 2, 2011

Hot Docs 2011 - The Hollywood Complex

The Hollywood Complex
By Dan Sturman and Dylan Nelson, 2011

Set in the Oakwood Hotel in Los Angeles, California, The Hollywood Complex focuses on the families of child actors who stay there during the annual Hollywood television pilot season. While some families leave after the season is over, many stay year after year, their children taking classes and going to auditions. The film is pretty wonderful overall, displaying shocking and hilarious portraits of money-hungry parents and agents, and children wanting fame before anything else. The subject is one that needs to be uncovered and presented to the public, as much of the casting process for these children is startling. But as one of the directors stated during the Q&A, many classic films could not have been made without children, so there is a troubling conflict of sorts. If I have one complaint, it is with the same director trying to cover up his tracks during the Q&A by saying that he was worried by some of the audience’s laughter during scenes and that he hoped they presented not only the bad and the ugly, but also the good. I believe that much of the reaction to the film, with such subject matter, is unavoidable, and that the “good” really wasn’t much on display here. It did come off as an indictment of an institution, which is nothing to be ashamed of. And as a personal conflict: as much as I enjoyed the documentary and participated in the laughter, I just hope the film’s children never see it.

4 out of 5

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