Check this out: New Suit

New Suit screened at the Portland International Film Festival back in 2003 and was quickly forgotten-but not before it made enough of an impression on me that I was excited to see it had finally been released on DVD last month.

Jordan Bridges (son of Beau) stars as Kevin Taylor, an aspiring screenwriter who arrives in Hollywood with dreams of making it big. But reality is quick to put a halt to Kevin's aspirations, and he is soon reduced to working as the lowly assistant to a maniacal producer (Dan Hedaya). Kevin's days are spent shuttling hookers and listening to his fellow low-end lackeys tell lies in an effort to seem like they're hipper and more in-the-know than anyone else. One day our hero becomes fed up with everyone around him telling him what he knows to be lies, so he decides make up a lie himself. Kevin tells his lunch companions that he's read an incredible script called "New Suit" by a writer named Jordan Strawberry. Not wanting to appear out of the loop, his friends all claim they've read the script as well. Soon, talk of Strawberry and "New Suit" has spread like wildfire through the film community. Kevin's ex-girlfriend (Marisa Coughlan), a career-driven talent agent with dreams of being a producer, claims she represents Strawberry, and the lie begins to snowball out of control. Soon studios and executives are in a bidding war to purchase a script that has never been written, by a writer who doesn't exist.

At its heart and soul, New Suit draws its inspiration from "The Emperor's New Clothes": It's a modern fairy tale set in Hollywood. Writer Craig Sherman has clearly spent time in the Hollywood trenches, and his script has just enough of a bitter, cynical edge. But director François Velle manages to keep things from ever getting too dark or angry, infusing a certain amount of optimistic hope-at least for our hero, Kevin.

Because stories set in the world of film have become so commonplace, and the characters who inhabit these films have become such archetypes, it is easy for films of this nature to fall into the world of derivative plots, cliché and stock characters. New Suit doesn't dodge all these shortcomings, but the film manages to transcend them. Velle's stylish yet subtle direction combines with Sherman's layered script to make a comedy that works without working too hard for laughs. New Suit may not be a great film, but it is a really good film.

Something to Skip: Malevolence

Pretend for a moment that you've never seen a single hack-'em-and-stack-'em slasher film from the late 1970s or '80s, because that's what filmmaker Stevan Mena has done: He's assumed you've never seen Halloween, Texas Chainsaw Massacre or any other crazed-killer movie. At least that's the only explanation for Mena's thinking he can get away with such a monumentally unoriginal film as Malevolence, which he wrote, directed and scored. Of course, it would help if this tale of bank robbers who seek refuge in an abandoned home near the hunting ground of a masked serial killer didn't rely solely upon clichés to keep the story stumbling slowly forward. But as it is, there is no reason to watch Malevolence, which is short on gratuitous gore, nudity or even genuine scares but does manage to deliver a few groans, unintentional laughs and eye rolls.