Sunday, November 22, 2015


Movie Name: Celebrity
Year of Release: 1998
Director: Woody Allen
Stars: Kenneth Branagh, Judy Davis, Winona Ryder, Charlize Theron, Leonardo DiCaprio, Famke Janssen, Melanie Griffith, J.K. Simmons, Gretchen Mol, Dylan Baker, Debra Messing, Joe Mantegna, Bebe Neuwirth, Sam Rockwell, Hank Azaria, Allison Janney, Jeffrey Wright, Michael Lerner, Kate Burton, Andre Gregory, David Margulies, Adrian Grenier, Celia Weston, Aida Turturro
Genre: Drama, Comedy
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 6

Synopsis & Review:
After the caustic and fantastic "Deconstructing Harry", Woody Allen returned in 1998 with a decidedly lighter take on the cult of celebrity and vapid journalism (and the general obsession with celebrities). The film focuses on a typical Woody Allen proxy character named Lee Simon, a travel writer and pretense novelist, who is trying to get a foot into the door with celebrities. After divorcing his wife of 16 years, Robin (a former English teacher), Lee immerses himself in the celebrity journalism milieu, which leads him down a path of inconsequential encounters, sex escapades, which lead him to question his own sense of worth. Meanwhile Robin overcomes her own insecurities, and finds success in television.
"Celebrity" is one of Woody Allen's less revered films from the 90s, and that can be largely attributed to the fact that for all it's intended purpose of being critical of the celebrity world, in the end it feels like a fairly superficial look that sheds no further light or insight into something that is vastly consumed by everyone. The film again focuses on the neurotic Woody Allen alter ego, this time around played by Kenneth Branagh to perfection, around whom all this parade of gorgeous people move and seem to be dazzled by, only to quickly be distracted by something else (or someone else). The film continues extending the angst and the themes of most of Woody Allen's films, however his acutely tuned view of the world, with the mix of biting satire and drama, doesn't gel with the material - the celebrity world needs a particular sense of parody, and the best types of satire are the ones that deconstruct it, such as Gus Van Sant's "To Die For". Nonetheless, the film manages to get some really interesting performances from Judy Davis and Branagh, and the cinematography from Sven Nykvist is beautiful. Another flawed yet interesting film in the Woody Allen cannon.