New York City. Forty year old Lee Simon, a critically panned two time novelist who works as a travel writer (a job he hates) to earn a steady living, tells his shocked wife of sixteen years, English teacher Robin Simon, that he wants a divorce. Although he had not been happy with Robin for some time, she who he feels is a bundle of Catholic repressions and neuroses especially when it comes to sex, Lee finally came to the conclusion about wanting a divorce upon attending his high school reunion and seeing a roomful of losers, he believing he turning into one of them if he didn't make a drastic change. He gets a job working as a journalist for an entertainment magazine, while he writes screenplays on the side, he believing the latter a good stepping stone to finishing his third novel if the screenplays works out. The journalist job includes conducting interviews with celebrities, not only to who he can pedal his completed screenplay, but also what he quickly learns to who he has easy ...Written by
As Woody Allen is too old for the lead, Kenneth Branagh literally steps into his shoes and does such an effective job at playing Woody that he must have watched every Allen movie at least six times. The film is hilarious but deep--like his best films. It explores our obsession with celebrities and the media's obsession with them, and I wonder how much "acting" Leonardo DiCaprio did for this film. But the more I thought about it afterwards, the more I realized how sad the movie is at its core--the word "help" being written in the sky may be what Allen is thinking--is this what we have become? So obsessed with fortune and fame that we literally prostitute ourselves and become someone we aren't (i.e. Judy Davis' character)?
The movie seems more timely now than in 1998. Americans seem to be more interested in what Paris Hilton does on TV, or what J-Lo and Affleck are up to, than what's going on in the world. "Celebrity" nails it, and like Deconstructing Harry, does it in a rather vulgar manner. But you have to wonder how much of this is based on real events (again, I cite Di Caprio). This was the second movie (after 2 Days in the Valley) that made me aware of the statuesque beauty of Charlize Theron. I didn't think she could act worth a hoot (that opinion recently changed), but she sure looked like a rich runway model to me. This movie is one of my favorite Woody films of the '90s, and one of his most underrated. It's also visually beautiful, in black & white that recalls the photography of Manhattan.
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