Published Sep 01, 2000This film is a Hollywood fable based on Tolstoy's The Death of Ivan Ilyitch. The story begins with the death, from a massive lung tumour, of its principal character, morally challenged agent Ivan Beckman (Danny Huston) and its immediate aftermath. It then backtracks over the last days of his life. His surprisingly undisturbed colleagues quickly try to prevent the loss of his biggest client, an almost too convincing sleazy big name actor named Don West (Peter Weller), who like everyone else believes drugs to be responsible. The rest of the film is a docu-drama of the sordid world of Hollywood deal-making. Ivan acts as a willing participant, though his guilt becomes apparent after finding out about his cancer. In one scene he is having dinner with his artist father and sister, both artists who can't understand why he would be involved in such a shallow career. His sister then verbally attacks Ivan's girlfriend, played by the film's producer Lisa Enos. She comes out of the bathroom sniffling after doing some coke and unconvincingly tries to explain it away by saying she is on anti-depressants, which cause her to appear nervous. Shot on digital video and with a plot that skewers the Hollywood system, don't expect to see Ivansxtc in your local multiplex anytime soon. This is especially true given the cast is mostly made up of unknowns. Besides Peter Weller's coked-up superstar, there are cameo appearances by 90210's Tiffany-Amber Thiessen and Valeria Golino. There's also an appearance by Playboy Playmate Victoria Silvstedt, who treats Ivan to impromptu blow job at the behest of Weller's character. This is the first digital feature from British director Bernard Rose (Immortal Beloved, Anna Karenina, Candyman).It's already generated hype not so much for the story but for the story behind it. Rose was influenced by the Dogme 95 manifesto of Lars von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg and surprised at how good digital video looks. What is abundantly clear in this film is Rose's and producer Lisa Enos' distaste with the Hollywood studio system's treatment of the filmmaking process. The result is a realistic portrayal that makes other dark-side-of-moviemaking flicks like The Player seem tame in comparison. For more info check out the aptly named ivansxtc web site at www.filmisdead.com.