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movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Celebrity

Starring: Kenneth Branagh, Leonardo DiCaprio
Director: Woody Allen
Rated: R
RunTime: 113 Minutes
Release Date: November 1998
Genre: Comedy

Review by Susan Granger
3 stars out of 4

Woody Allen examines the phenomenon of "celebrity" in some of its most ridiculous incarnations in this thoroughly entertaining, black-and-white, contemporary comedy set in New York City. Kenneth Branagh plays his alter ego, a free-lance writer whose neurotic ambitions lead him to divorce his high-strung wife, a school teacher (Judy Davis), and into the wobbly orbit of superstars like prancing movie queen Melanie Griffith, imperious model Charlize Theron, and teen idol Leonardo DiCaprio, who was cast even before he made such a big hit in "Titanic." "All you writers are so sensitive," DiCaprio whines when Branagh hedges about joining him in some drug-laden debauchery. Famke Janssen is a svelte book editor, and Winona Ryder does a turn as an ambitious waitress/actress. While Branagh blathers about the current "Age of Psychiatry," where people have become so civilized that a new barbarity has developed from their pseudo-sophistication, his ex-wife flees to a religious retreat where a TV-star priest signs autographs, learns about oral sex from a prostitute (Bebe Newirth), and visits a plastic surgeon (Michael Lerner) known as "the Michaelangelo of Manhattan." And she delivers Allen's signature line for the film: "You can tell a lot about a society by who it chooses to celebrate." Obviously, Woody Allen is satirizing Andy Warhol's "15 minutes of fame" which is now accorded to hostages, criminals, and the unlikely oddballs who catch our fancy, revealing a society with no firm guideposts, either moral or traditional. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Celebrity" is an acerbic, cynical 7, ridiculing the "discreet charm" of the auteurs and poseurs, the so-called cultural elite.

Copyright 1998 Susan Granger

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