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By Peter Hanson | January 29, 2005

Picture an episode of “The E! True Hollywood Story” directed by David Lynch, subtract anything interesting, and you’ve arrived at “American Fame Pt. 2: Forgetting Jonathan Brandis.” A trivial exercise in style over substance, Cam Archer’s 15-minute HD short uses actors wearing blank face masks to dramatize the rise and fall of real-life teen actor Brandis, who committed suicide after his career ran aground. We’ve seen this sort of thing before in Todd Haynes’ “Superstar,” and moreover, even well-told stories about the price of fame feel awfully trite at this point. Sure, it gets a little creepy after a while to watch faceless figures fidget around in crunchy black-and-white as ominous music drones, but Archer’s devices for creating this disquiet are borrowed from a host of filmmakers with more to say. If you want to pay respect to the departed Mr. Brandis, forget this movie and pray Archer stops himself before he feels compelled to unleash “American Fame Pt. 3.”

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