Alex in Wonderland (1970)

Article 4359 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 10-6-2013
Directed by Paul Mazursky
Featuring Donald Sutherland, Ellen Burstyn, Meg Mazursky
Country: USA
What it is: Personal art film

A film director whose first full-length film has garnered high critical praise in previews (though still hasn’t had a general release) finds himself pondering his next project.

Let’s get the fantastic content out of the way first; occasionally, the film director’s fantasies about certain ideas for film projects get shown on the screen, with at least one of these (involving smog levels causing death at an airport) verging into the area of science fiction. Beyond that, this is the type of self-indulgent art project that was made by the big studios during the late sixties/early seventies after the runaway success of EASY RIDER (which gets some references here). It’s consciously modeled after 8 1/2 (Fellini even makes a cameo appearance here), but Paul Mazursky just isn’t in the same league as Fellini. Surprisingly, the movie is easy enough to parse out (thanks in part to the clue provided in the opening quote from “Alice in Wonderland”); it’s about the sense of giddiness and uneasiness caused by the success of the last film throwing the director’s life into a new environment (the “Wonderland” of the title), and his sometimes frustrating attempts to come to terms with it. It’s very hit-and-miss; for every scene that hits home, there are a couple that either seem pointless or miss the mark. All in all, it has the air of a film that the director had used to get a lot out of his own system; this probably was good for him, but the results are not necessarily interesting to the outside viewer. If you do watch, keep your eyes open for Angelo Rossitto.


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