Michael Tolkin gives a good interview. While clearly an adept Hollywood player, he casually peppers his conversations with allusions to serious literature, philosophy, cultural criticism, art cinema, and American film history. Tolkin's film projects similarly reveal his status as a rare commodity in today's movie industry--a feeling intellectual. As a screenwriter, he pens tough-minded social satires without sacrificing compassion for his characters. Tolkin's worldview reflects a profound and rather refreshing ambivalence. He refuses to scapegoat potentially easy targets because he views all of us as accomplices in society's shortcomings. This journalist turned novelist turned screenwriter began to flex his muscles as a writer-director in several unconventional Hollywood films of the early 1990s. All of his stories to date have been set in Los Angeles, a city as central to his vision as New York is to Woody Allen or Martin Scorsese.