2018 • USA • 92 min.
Director: Orson Oblowitz
Screenwriter: Orson Oblowitz
Cast: Rosemary Hochschild, Michael Parks, Ana Mulvoy Ten, Roger Guenveur Smith
March 23, 2018 @ 7:15 pm
Shot through the lens of writer-director Orson Oblowitz’s self-aware male gaze, The Queen of Hollywood Blvd. is an audacious female-centric revenge flick swathed in faded neon, religious iconography, and leopard prints. The mesmerizing soundtrack spans vintage R&B to Bobby Beausoleil (yes, that Bobby Beausoleil). Even in daylight, it oozes that quintessential Hollywood-After-Dark aesthetic. If you’ve come for blood, breasts, and a bokeh-ed glimpse into Los Angeles’ rapidly disappearing underbelly, you will be wholly satisfied.
If you’ve come for a searing, Fassbinder-esque takedown of capitalism and third-wave feminism, you’re also in the right place. Strip club matriarch Queen Mary (Oblowitz’s real-life mother Rosemary Hochschild) has spent the three decades leaning in. But on her 60th birthday, a gangster from her past informs her the business she built was never actually hers. They’ve also taken her son, Otto (Oblowitz). If she wants to see him again and repay an old “debt,” all she has to do is knock off a snitch and hand over her keys to the club.
The Queen embarks on a survival strategy to save her son and her legacy. She encounters forgotten enemies and visits old friends, notably the ailing, drug-addled Chet — played by genre legend Michael Parks in his final on-screen performance. Desperation mounts and the sun sets, but Queen Mary remains steadfast in refusal of the disposability foisted upon her.
While her steely resolve never falters, the Queen’s unwavering belief in the American Dream crumbles. “I’ve had the opportunity to play businesswoman, teacher, mother, lover, gangster,” she tells her party guests. She’s lived entirely on her own terms — only to discover her biggest mistake was not thanking men for the “opportunity” to meet every demand life made of her. Mary may be the Queen of Hollywood Blvd., but she resides in the mind and experience of every headstrong woman you’ve ever met.
– Melinda Green