Searching For Debra Winger (DVD)

Searching For Debra Winger (DVD)

Rosanna Arquette has never met a fellow actress she didn't like. But she clearly has a problem with the film industry, which has unfortunately prompted her to make a documentary, Searching For Debra Winger, in which she makes the mistake of asking actresses to talk about themselves and the hardships of being a successful screen actor. Somewhere in a distant mine, soot-covered men with black lungs no doubt weep in solidarity with what the Meg Ryans, Gwyneth Paltrows, and Sharon Stones of the world have to go through just to make millions of dollars and bask in public adulation. An epic exercise in stating the obvious, Searching For Debra Winger is devoted to telling audiences what they already know, then re-telling it, in case anyone isn't paying attention. There aren't a lot of good roles for women in their 40s or older. Hollywood is run by lecherous men who judge women by their "fuckability" rather than their talent. It's hard to balance a career with a family and a successful relationship. The film world is obsessed with youth. Every once in a while, one of the interviewees will say something surprising or insightful, as when Jane Fonda vividly captures the surreal nature and unlikely vulnerability of film stardom while discussing what she misses and doesn't miss about acting. But such moments are rare, and drowned out by an avalanche of fuzzy self-affirmation, self-aggrandizement, and you-go-girl sisterhood. A graduate of the James Lipton School Of Celebrity Interviewing, Arquette lobs softball questions not only at Fonda, Paltrow, Ryan, and Stone, but also to a small army of prominent actresses, including Patricia Arquette. (How'd she manage that coup?) It's hard to say which is more embarrassing: watching Arquette gush over her subjects, or watching Arquette's subjects second her compliments. At one point, one of them points out, reasonably enough, that women should perhaps make films about women, which could then ostensibly be seen by other women. It's fitting, then, that Searching For Debra Winger is a movie by, about, and—ultimately and somewhat exclusively—for Hollywood actresses.

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