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Review: Filmmaking siblings grieve by cataloging grandmother's stuff in eccentric documentary '306 Hollywood'

Review: Filmmaking siblings grieve by cataloging grandmother's stuff in eccentric documentary '306 Hollywood'
Annette Ontell in the documentary "306 Hollywood." (El Tigre Productions)

Everyone grieves differently, a fact that can be difficult to comprehend for the nonmourning. Siblings Elan and Jonathan Bogarin responded to the passing of their New Jersey-based nonagenarian grandmother Annette with a filmmaking fervor, an attempt to archaeologically catalog her house of stuff that is now the documentary “306 Hollywood.” (The title was Grandma’s address.)

A whimsically color-coded Wes Anderson/Michel Gondry slide show of remembrance and minutiae, with flights of fancy for sequences like a choreographed front yard dance featuring clothesmaker Annette’s hand-sewn dresses, and interviews designed to push a philosophical thread about grief and archiving, “306 Hollywood” is a work of supreme dedication to twee aesthetics.

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What it isn’t is especially interesting — despite glimmers of Annette’s lively charm in the Bogarins’ videotaped interviews with her — and in some cases, the movie is like a fastidious shrine to the insecurity of ambitious filmmakers. The need to make an ordinary life extraordinary is so prevalent it smothers any genuine emotion from family members losing a loved one.

The late discovery of a cassette tape inspires not an illuminating inquiry into the realities behind its recorded arguments/conversations but another art gimmick: actors lip-syncing for re-created “scenes.” The Bogarins’ arch shell of formal style and diorama visuals is certainly eye-opening as a documentary construct, but you’d be hard-pressed to call “306 Hollywood,” for all its painstaking immersion into one woman’s physical world, an illuminatingly personal work.

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‘306 Hollywood’

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 28 minutes

Playing: Starts Oct. 12, Laemmle Royal, West L.A.; Laemmle Town Center 5, Encino

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