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Junk Bonds

Noah Stern's movie reveals the nitty gritty of stardom but glosses it over with heroin chic.

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Ripe with the glossy angst of heroin chic, Noah Stern's film The Invisibles is lyrical, bohemian and maddening. Michael Goorjian (Newsies, SLC Punk) and Portia de Rossi (Ally McBeal) -- he's a rock star, she's a supermodel -- spend the movie's entire ninety minutes in a Paris apartment after she rescues him from a postconcert overdose. They're both rehab alumni, and they're not exactly sticking to their twelve steps.

Stern, who wrote and directed this February offering from the Kansas City Filmmakers Jubilee, made the film for about $8,000. "Godard said all you need to make a movie is a girl and a gun," he says. "I just skip the gun part. In fact, you can probably make a film even cheaper today -- shoot digital, steal all locations and just make sure you feed people well."

When The Invisibles premiered at the 1999 Sundance Film Festival, one critic noted, "Had more Sundance entries been like this one, I would have declared the festival an unqualified success." It took Stern a while to get a distributor, but, because of its persistent appearances at film festivals from Nashville to Oldenburg, the movie fell into favor with Zero Hour Pictures. The black-and-white film is expressly theatrical: one set, two actors and the kind of monologues that auditioning actors would fight for. The lanky Goorjian and the lithe de Rossi reveal childhood traumas, have sex repeatedly and lament their status as disaffected icons.

The movie never gets more penetrating than answering the burning question of why models take drugs and starve themselves. Though there are a few witty exchanges, the film has continuity problems (watch the Diet Coke scene), and the ubiquitous pop culture references ring false, as they do in every other quasi-hip movie.

But where the script may wobble, Rob Humphrey's cinematography and Thomas Zachmeier's and Alan Polk's editing keep the viewer engaged.

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