The Loser's Circle

A Vegas Dramedy and a 'Seinfeld' Castoff

Why is Ellie such a turnoff when Larry David's equally repulsive character is so watchable? Is it the same double standard that allows male rock stars to behave like arrogant assholes while Courtney Love gets endless flak? Maybe, but more likely it's because Watching Ellie doesn't have the killer scripts that allowed shows like Roseanne and Absolutely Fabulous to expand the boundaries of female obnoxiousness. Also, every good misanthrope needs to surround himself with appealing foils (think of David's wife Cheryl and bumbling agent Jeff), but Watching Elliecrams so many jerks into its half-hour time slot that malevolence drowns out hilarity. There are good losers and bad losers: scratch the surface of Lucky and you find a sweet lug with a winning, nuanced personality; do the same with Watching Ellie and you find nothing but unfunny bitterness.


Guy Maddin is a cineaste's secret, a conjurer of fabulist tableaux who spills the contents of Cornell boxes onto film and brings them to glimmering, bizarro life. The Sundance Channel pays tribute to the auteur from Winnipeg with a mini-film festival that includes Careful, a movie about an isolated mountain community that must repress its wayward desires out of constant fear of avalanche, and Twilight of the Ice Nymphs, an ultravivid fantasia complete with a political prisoner, a mesmerist, and spirits of the forest. Both movies will run on April 18, 26, and 30, accompanied by Guy Maddin: Waiting for Twilight, a documentary narrated by Tom Waits that offers would-be acolytes insight into the director's ouevre, his thoroughly independent methods, and the neurological disorder that causes Maddin to feel ghostly hands stroking his limbs, even when he's alone.

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