CELEBRITY (1998)

Written & Directed by: Woody Allen 
Cinematography: Sven Nykvist
Editor: Susan E. Morse 

Cast: Kenneth Branagh, Winona Ryder, Famke Janssen, Leonardo DiCaprio, Gretchen Mol, Greg Mottola, Charlize Theron, Judy Davis, Douglas McGrath, Joe Mantegna, Andre Gregory, Sam Rockwell, Adrian Grenier, Michael Lerner, Melanie Griffith, J.K. Simmons, Famke Janssen, Becky Ann Baker, Issac Mizrahi, Anthony Mason, Kate Burton, Debra Messing, David Marguiles, Tony Sirico, Bebe Neuwirth, Patti D’Arbanville, Ingrid Rogers, Jeffrey Wright, Hank Azaria, Karen Duffy, Aida Turturro, Allison Janney, Donna Hanover, Celia Weston, Wood Harris, Donald Trump 

Lee Simon, unsuccessful journalist and wanna-be novelist, tries to get his foot in the door with celebrities. After divorcing his wife Robin, Lee gets to meet a lot folks of the rich and/or beautiful, partly through journalism, and partly because he has a script to offer. But life amongst those from out-of-this-world is hard, and his putative success always results in defeat. Meanwhile, Robin meets a very desirable television producer and takes the first steps in the world of celebrities.


This seems to be more of a moralistic take more than a character piece. filming in black and white the film does come off looking beautiful and Classic but just like the characters, it’s empty.

This isn’t a typical woody Allen film. This feels more aggressive and verbose than usual a bit more hardcore. Where you can’t tell if he is angry or trying to fit in with the cinematic trends and language of the time. As this film and DECONSTRUCTING HARRY have that in common. 

While we have the typical Woody Allen type surrogate lead character played here by Kenneth Branagh. Here he feels disposable and never quite makes a mark. As he is just one of the many unlikeable characters throughout the film.

The characters are all physically beautiful but seem to be grotesque internally. As it seems only the lead character seems to know better. As he constantly cheats on his wife as his profile seems to rise, but as he slowly gets his comeuppance his suffering wife seems to become famous herself and finds love and good fortunes. 

The film seems more like a commentary on modern life at that time. The nature of celebrity web tabloids. A kind of acid commentary on it all. While feeling like a tabloid itself how it jumps around from character to character and tale to tale. Though it also feels like with this film though not surreal Allen seems to try to emulate Fredrico Fellini’s LA DOLCE VITA to a degree. While it tries to feel like that movie it never quite rises to that level. 

Using the nature of having a lot of big names in his cast. They are here for a reason. While this little is a commentary the film seems scattershot and ultimately lost because it never seems to come to a point. Just cruelty  As the Lead and the movie goes on many misadventures on his way to trying to achieve being a great writer and screenwriter. He finds the romantic entanglements prove to be as artificial as the proper and the world he is trying to enter. Even if all are around him are supposed to be artists and of such depth and passion. Showing all to be more in the moment and inauthentic with a love of self More than anything. 

Falling in love with the image in which others see them and list after them. Loving their own image More than anything else. 

The most noteworthy thing about this movie is that it has Leonardo DiCaprio in it. Mirroring his TITANIC fame of popularity but this was filmed before that film’s release. So it seems like life imitating art. Though some of the films revolve around him, he isn’t actually in it much. 

While not a classic the film is admirable in it’s own ways. It is beautifully shot and tries to say something overall it just has a funny way of showing it. 

Grade: C

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