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Yes man

By Ray Pride

OCTOBER 20, 1997:  Oooh, USA Today didn't get it. Now I know I like "House of Yes." Mark Waters' adaptation of Wendy MacLeod's long-running San Francisco stage hit is still rife with hothouse theatricality, but it boasts one of the most nuanced performances of the year, by Parker Posey. Medicated and no longer completely deluded, she still only answers by the name of her favorite identity: Jackie O. Posey is a sparkler in all her roles, yet in collaboration with Waters and his editors, her Jackie O. can balance between hysteria and calculation in every moment, just shy of twirling into the void. She's obsessed with her namesake, the Kennedy assassination, and all too fond of her twin, Marty (Josh Hamilton). When Marty comes home for Thanksgiving with fiancee Lesly (Tori Spelling) the scene is set; as mom Genevieve Bujold puts it, "I'm going in the kitchen to check on the turkey and hide the knives."

Waters, a native of Sound Bend, Indiana, didn't even intend to be a film director when he first saw the play, and his control of the levels of comedy and pathos in a very, very black comedy impresses. "Parker, Parker," Waters says with a grin. "Parker was so much fun because we did a lot of prep work. She was attached for a long time, so there was a lot of talking about the role. Then on the set, we had a lot of fun, trying th ings at different levels and extremes. 'This time, try it like a two-year-old.' 'Now go a little further.' So in the cutting process we were able to modulate it. When we let her loose, and really let the hysteria come through, we could push or pull it back as well. The first cut of the film, we went more in a crazy direction, and it was just off-putting. We eased off a bit and found that it was a lot more interesting. You have to emotionally engage with Jackie O., or you're not going to be interested in the movie."

Since its debut at Sundance, Waters' film has gone through a long series of previews and changes. But he says he's happy, noting that very few filmmakers get almost a year of post-production nowadays. "Once you've gotten through and listened to every single take of every single line and see that you're getting the best of everything, the best rhythm of the scene, then you're happy with the work you do. But it takes time. You step back, take a day or two, look at it again. I look at it even now, and I say, this could be better, that could be better. You don't finish movies, you stop working on them."

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