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

THE HALF OF IT (2020)

Written & Directed By: Alice Wu  Cinematography: Greta Zozula 

Editor: Ian Blume & Lee Percy 

Cast: Leah Lewis, Daniel Diemar, Alexxis Lemire, Wolfgang Novogratz, Collin Chou, Becky Ann Baker, Catherine Curtin 

A shy, introverted, Chinese-American, straight-A student finds herself helping the school jock woo the girl they both secretly love. In the process, each teaches the other about the nature of love as they find a connection in the most unlikely of places.


I can sometimes be a sucker for a coming of age story. even if it has a romance at the heart of it and they usually do.

This one isn’t as conventional but it is as sweet as any teen love story. Only here dealing more with confusion and revelation. An almost teen Cyrano story only with lgbtq romance and character. 

You’ll enjoy that the fil mHas the emotions but doesn’t overload the audience or story with it. It’s what brings the characters together but it’s not what the film Is all about. As the storylines never become so dire that it feels like life or death, not in the consequences.

This is an original unsuspecting love triangle tale with no true villains. It actually has more depth, drama, and humor than expected, but stays perfect for it’s intended audience. As the film is more character-driven by a few of them rather than Story or plot. As it actually feels layered.

While it has it’s Goofy moments it feels surprising down to earth and earnest. Even if it has the hallmarks of a more cute, quirky indie film. That with youth brings an amount of energy but also a still calmness. 

Which I applaud Netflix for presenting such a film Showing a balance as it has it’s More conventional teen films and then a film like this that actually approaches it’s Material respectfully and treats the audience the same way

This is an LGBT crush’s story that creeps up on you more like a romance and then a romantic comedy before becoming a love story and a surprisingly minor character study.

What can be really appreciative other than that the film and characters are more open-minded then you would expect is that the more all the characters get to know each other they like them for the qualities they notice and learn about them and appreciate that other then just looks. Just as the characters are more than their looks and have talents and know-how.

This film shows the beauty in the plain and makes small-town loving look luxurious itself in its own little hidden nooks, crannies, stories, and mysteries.

Grade: B