Mondo Hollywoodland, co-written by director Janek Ambros, Marcus Hart, and star Chris Blim, is not your run-of-the-mill movie about the inner-working of Hollywood and producing motion pictures. The inspiration for this feature-length WTF experiment comes from Robert Carl Cohen’s X-rated hybrid narrative/documentary Mondo Hollywood: Hollywood Laid Bare! The modern filmmakers show that not much has changed since the 1960s.
The idea of the film is relatively simple. A creature from the 5th dimension (Ted Evans, heard only in voice-over) wants to understand the idiosyncratic culture of Hollywood and its essence known as “mondo.” He is quickly directed to Boyle (Chris Blim), a mushroom dealer experiencing an existential crisis stemming from his missing cat. Somehow this involves a hose connecting his car’s exhaust pipe to the attic of his Hollywood Hills home.
It’s here that the creature observes Boyle and his interactions with three of the city’s oddest groups: Titans, Weirdos, and Dreamers. The Titans are firmly enmeshed in the corporate Hollywood movie system as represented by an agent, his client—a former Disney-channel star, and an endless supply of cocaine. The Weirdoes, aka the Venice-beach artists who are culturally and politically aware. One of Boyle’s clients is an SJW trying to convince her fellow members of Antifa to firebomb a neo-Nazi car. Lastly, the Dreamers are the industry hopefuls who find themselves just outside the metaphorical walls of the Titans as represented by an aspiring actor and an aging writer.
“A creature from the 5th dimension wants to understand the idiosyncratic culture of Hollywood…”
When approaching Mondo Hollywoodland, it’s essential to understand what you’re getting yourself into before you start. The film is non-traditional and experimental and comprised of day-in-the-life scenes of all of the characters. It is here we understand their passions and the strange ways they choose to live them out. Our lead protagonist, Boyle, is a mushroom dealer, and the entire film feels like a psychedelic bender. Each scene moves quickly, and the mind-bending visual style comes from the art and architecture, which is uniquely Hollywood.
The entire production gives off a vibe of Cinéma verité, but it’s much more controlled than that. The characters are not simply odd individuals, wound up like toy mice, and let loose to find a story to tell. Instead, each person has a single, often simple, passion, and we see how Hollywood exploits that passion, transforming them into the insane character onscreen. As the film observes these fragmented lives, we soon see how the Titans, Weirdos, and Dreamers work together as a single organism.
I may be reading too much into the story, but the fun came in figuring out what is happening. No passive watching is allowed. Experiencing Mondo Hollywoodland requires work for us as an audience, and note that it’s not for everyone. If you’re a fan of the experimental or WTF genre, you will find a home here.
Born in Los Angeles and having lived my entire life in Southern California, Hollywood is this strange entity within the city. People from all walks of life come there to find fame and stardom, and upon entering, they change and become unrecognizable. I think Mondo Hollywoodland hits hard on that theme.
"…mind-bending visual style..."