There’s a misconception that “hybrid films,” which blend narrative and nonfiction elements, are inherently smart, or craftily toying with formula, but Mark Hendrickson’s 134 minutes of pointless pomposity couldn’t be accused of either. The writer-director stars as self-professed “master manipulator” Clark Larson, a shaggy-wigged Cockney in Russia who wants to pull off one last con: to start an “artificial rock band” in the motherland, make them famous overnight, retire off the riches, and document the whole scam with a film crew. (Take that, Monkees!) But really, the film is about Hendrickson’s self-love, as he smugly sermonizes about art, history, and humankind’s great schemers, comparing his brilliant bullshitting to the rise of the Bolsheviks. In other painfully improvised setups, he leads on family, crew members, musicians, and Mafia thugs as if the antihero of his own badass fantasy. But it’s hard to know if scenes like when he asks his team to keep his fake British accent a secret are unintentionally laughable or just unfunny. If cinema’s most narcissistic actor-filmmakers were swimming in a talent pool, with Vincent Gallo confidently backstroking in the deep end and Eric Schaeffer wading in children’s pee, Hendrickson’s dipping his toe near Tommy Wiseau.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 17, 2013