A long-time habitué and self-styled chronicler of life on the fringes of Hollywood, filmmaker Henry Jaglom makes movies in a style of studied nonchalance that borders on relentless self-indulgence. With "Queen of the Lot," he picks up from his 2006 film "Hollywood Dreams" for the further adventures of a psychotically fame-obsessed young actress (Tanna Frederick) who has this time out realized her dream of becoming a star.
Frederick comes across as an adult who never outgrew the cutesy tricks of a child performer — she even listens busily. Jaglom and Frederick nevertheless include a moment where she talks admiringly of a Golden Age actress "doing too much" (as she always is) and at one point she reads from bona-fide bad reviews for "Hollywood Dreams." Self-aware enough to realize that Frederick's onscreen persona is not a comic exaggeration but a mannered annoyance, they still press onward.
Rather than adopt the easy efficiency of most veteran filmmakers, Jaglom has become even sloppier regarding basics like photography, editing and sound recording, pushing his knowingly rough-edged amateurism toward the nearly unwatchable. As Jaglom seems to have no greater insights to convey on life, Los Angeles or filmmaking, the only thing one can now take from his films is simply that he has continued on. Even that looks like not much of an achievement viewed from outside his stultifying cocoon of cozy self-satisfaction.
Perhaps Jaglom and Frederick can next create something along the lines of "Synecdoche, New York" that looks truthfully at the lack of anything genuine or human in "Queen of the Lot," sharpening the points here left dull and fully honing the deeper ideas casually tossed aside.
"Queen of The Lot." MPAA rating: R for language and sexual content. Running time: 1 hour, 54 minutes. In limited release.