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

Annette Ontell in the 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.

For the record:

4:15 p.m. Oct. 11, 2018A headline on an earlier version of this review mistakenly referred to the directors as brothers. Elan and Jonathan Bogarin are sister and brother.

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.



‘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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