Alex in Wonderland (1970)
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Made on the heels of Paul Mazursky's Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, this cinematic experiment is one of the director's more personal films. With a big tip-'o-the-hat to Fellini's 8 1/2 (to make sure no one misses the references to the film, Federico Fellini appears in a cameo), Alex in Wonderland centers on a young director (Donald Sutherland) who feels compelled to follow his recent box-office hit with another blockbuster. While mulling over this dilemma, the director's mind wanders to his past, his present, and probable future. One of the film's memorable sequences involves a restaging of the Vietnam War in downtown Hollywood. … More
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Critic Reviews for Alex in Wonderland
Audience Reviews for Alex in Wonderland
Practically an American remake of "8 1/2," this obscure film is writer/director Paul Mazursky's shaggy portrait of the inner doubts following his "Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice" success.
Donald Sutherland (on the cusp of "M*A*S*H*" stardom) is Alex Morrison, a young Hollywood director with good taste in hats and a magnificent beard. He has an anxious but forgiving wife (Ellen Burstyn, not long before her own star-making role in "The Exorcist") and two sweet daughters (the older is Mazursky's real-life child Meg). Alex's debut feature -- we never learn a thing about its contents -- is being shown to preview audiences, and seems poised to be a commercial and critical hit. Amidst this realization, Alex grapples with two big questions: settling on his next project and deciding whether to pursue the lifestyle upgrades which his new wealth will allow.
The "plot" goes no further than the above -- the action is episodic and intentionally unresolved. Alex travels, brainstorms, has meetings, takes acid and ambivalently helps his wife shop for a larger house. Along the way, there are surreal sequences involving a violent race-riot film shot in the streets, a celebratory beach dance with nude African natives, an overt tribute to "8 1/2" (including borrowed score from "Juliet of the Spirits") and a wonderful French tune sung by drop-in superstar Jeanne Moreau. Elsewhere, Federico Fellini himself appears in one scene, impatiently enduring Alex's fannish questions while trying to edit his own real-life work.
The line between script and improvisation is fuzzy -- Sutherland has cute chemistry with his onscreen daughters, and visibly helps them through some of their scenes. Fellini's and Moreau's cameos seem loosely written too. Regardless, "Alex in Wonderland" is an interesting peek inside Mazursky's head, as well as a broader look at that "Easy Rider" era when Hollywood was so desperately hoping to tap the exploding hippie subculture.
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