100 FILMS And A FUNERAL (Michael McNamara). 84 minutes. December 3 and 4 at the Royal. Rating: NNN
100 Films And A Funeral documents the rise and fall of PolyGram Filmed Entertainment, the company behind such indie classics as Trainspotting, The Usual Suspects and the Hugh Grant breakout film on which the catchy title plays. The brainchild of PolyGram lawyer Michael Kuhn , the London-based company became for a time in the 1990s a viable player on the global film scene, proof that a European company could compete with Hollywood.
Kuhn set up satellite PFE companies throughout Europe and even in Canada, not just looking for projects but carefully tailoring a film's marketing strategies to a country's particular market.
Its taste was pretty impeccable: PFE took on The Usual Suspects after it had been turned down by 50 studios, and wisely kept the title for Four Weddings And A Funeral after U.S. marketing people, disliking the word "funeral," tried calling it Skulking Around.
The company's downfall came not just via its misguided attempts to bankroll bigger-budget films like the $75 million Robin Williams flop What Dreams May Come, but from a lack of communication with its owner, the tech behemoth Philips.
Indie film aficionados will eat up every fact and figure, but others probably won't care. The occasional famous talking head ( Jodie Foster ), some zippy graphics and the animated narration by Little Mosque On The Prairie's Carlo Rota can't save this from feeling like an interesting DVD extra on, say, a special edition of Notting Hill.