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It’s actually a little hard to believe that in the annals of cinema, there haven’t been more films where a bus serves as the stage to a turnstile of colorful characters. Sure, they have made appearances in movies from Ferris Bueller to Star Trek: The Voyage Home, but the setting seems like a perfect place to keep a story moving. With From Hollywood to Rose, a bus kind of is the story and sets the immediate tone for a decidedly quirky but undeniably compelling story that is less about the destination and more about the well, that’s not entirely clear. Nor is meant to be.
Wearing an outlandishly decorative wedding dress with a gigantic white bow on her head, an unnamed woman (Eve Annenberg) with running mascara, climbs aboard a Metro bus in downtown Los Angeles and sits silently for a bit as the world around her unfolds, oddballs and weirdos that we realize quickly are not surprisingly just like us. Not long after though enter two husky movie fanboys (Maxx Maulion and Bradley J. Herman) and the three strike up a kind of bond over Blade Runner, the classic sci-fi thriller from 1982, and as circumstances unfold, they temporarily find themselves going from place to place, discovering much about themselves and how similar they all are.
Written and co-directed by Matt Jacobs (along with Liz Graham), the movie is mostly storyless, all of it loosely played around the woman’s immediate decision to walk away from her wedding and escape into the night. Her odd appearance acts like a magnet, drawing people to her like moths to a flame, her vulnerability a confessional for these ordinary voices with extraordinary stories, and while the woman occasionally joins in with her own words, it is mostly others that come and go and color the night, each awakening something deeper within her. Mostly though it is about connections long and short and how even strangers who share only a moment can influence each other.
Covering all the bases, the numerous buses that carry the woman from Hollywood Blvd. to Venice Beach are populated with all the stereotypes, from flamboyant drag queens to musclebound, tattooed men into fashion, to housewives and Chinese mail-order brides and more, each thankfully never drawn too broadly but just enough to feel, well, kinda normal, and that’s the point.
The micro-budget movie is a meandering hodgepodge of banal yet paradoxically intriguing conversations that sometimes enlighten, sometimes do nothing, and we are meant to ask “why?” throughout (something even a minor character echoes in the closing moments). That there is no answer is the the answer and it’s not long before you pass over these curiosities and actually get what is happening. Life is the bus, a never stopping complex system of moments that constantly move forward, taking you from people to people from situation to situation from lesson to living and while most of these pass along into the the abyss of our forgotten memories, once in awhile one comes along that makes a difference.
From Hollywood to Rose is a simple film with a few flaws that quite doesn’t explore the themes as richly as perhaps it could, but the remarkable thing is how quickly it stays with you, its quirkiness inviting, its uplifting melancholy lasting. From Hollywood to Rose will open in Los Angeles at the Laemmle Music Hall on June 16th for a weeklong run.
Movie description: From Hollywood to Rose is a 2017 comedy about an evening ride on an LA Metro bus and the misfit group of passengers who come along.
Director(s): Liz Graham, Matt Jacobs
Actor(s): Eve Annenberg
Genre: Drama, Comedy