Films on Fame

Addicted to Fame

Documentary 2012 NR 1hr 29m. Mocking the cult of celebrity, this documentary by David Giancola recounts the director’s previous film project, a comedy starring Anna Nicole Smith.

Smash His Camera

Documentary 2010 PG-13 1hr 30m. While profiling the controversial career of pioneering paparazzo Ron Galella, this film raises questions about our celebrity-obsessed culture.

Starsuckers

Documentary 2009 NR. Critically acclaimed filmmaker Chris Atkins (Taking Liberties) steps into the glare of star culture for this deft exploration of celebrity obsession and the media’s role in pushing the pursuit of fame as an enviable occupation. Combining undercover reporting techniques with interviews and animation, the documentary reveals the inner workings of the media machine and exposes the clamoring mob that feeds it.

Celebrity

Documentary 1998 R 113 minutes. Director Woody Allen turns his caustic wit on the nature of celebrity with this satiric look at people who’ll do anything for fame. Kenneth Branagh stars as a version of Allen: a neurotic writer desperate for entrée into the world of celebrities.

The King of Comedy

Satire 1983 PG 105 minutes. Director Martin Scorsese hits a satirical bulls-eye in this black comedy that explores the absurd lengths to which nebbish Rupert Pupkin (Robert De Niro) will go to land a spot on the TV talk show of his idol, Jerry Langford (a wonderfully caustic Jerry Lewis). Pupkin believes that one appearance on Langford’s show will be his ticket to stardom, so he kidnaps his idol and sets into motion a chain of events you have to see to believe!  See Full Review

VIPs

Docudrama 2010 NR 1hr36m. In this intriguing look at society’s worship of celebrity above all else, Wagner Moura stars as Brazilian con man Marcelo, who uses scores of aliases to climb the heights of the social register before being locked up. Handsome young Marcelo passes himself off as a pilot, a notorious bandit, a real-estate mogul and a glamorous celebrity, all while desperately searching for an identity he can call his own. The film is loosely based on a true story.

Stardom

Mocumentary 2000 R 103 mins.  After getting discovered at a hockey rink, Quebecois beauty Tina Menzhal (Jessica Pare) starts a modeling career with the help of a Montreal photographer (Charles Berling). But when she makes a bid for international stardom, intense media scrutiny takes a toll. Dan Aykroyd and Frank Langella co-star as Tina’s powerful older boyfriends in this satire from acclaimed filmmaker Denys Arcand, who takes dead aim at the culture of celebrity.

EDtv

Mockumentary satire 1999 PG-13 124 mins.  The things that comprise Ed’s (Matthew McConaughey) life don’t amount to much, from his dead-end job to dealing with his deadbeat brother (Woody Harrelson).  But when a television executive puts Ed in front of the camera 24 hours a day, his now-public existence gets much more interesting. A cable channel has dwindling ratings, so it decides to start up a reality TV show where it follows someone 24/7. Matthew McConaughey happens to be the guy, and the ratings skyrocket. Fresh into his career as a leading man, McConaughey plays into his typecast as a drawling, charming bachelor, this time spiced with the angle of a 24/7 reality show that broadcasts his every waking moment. Naturally, this eventually plays havoc on his personal life, especially when he picks up with his brother’s publicity-shy ex (Jenna Elfman). Director Ron Howard explores Ed’s newfound fame — and the discontent that grows among his family and friends. McConaughey is unbearable in a few scenes, but he’s at least believable as the naive, overnight celebrity everyman adopted by pop culture. He wants out eventually, but his contract doesn’t allow him to do that. So he finds a way to get back at the company by exposing their secrets. EdTV, which I thought would be a knockoff of the Truman Show, turned out to be a witty, creative, interesting flick that actually had me laughing out loud! Unlike Truman, EdTV satirizes our society’s desire to be famous — over being someone substantial. Ron Howard shows you how people can change once their lives are exposed to the rest of the world, and how far a TV network will go for ratings.  A decent conceptual drama with a mildly sour twist of social commentary thrown in.  Warm and charming at times, thin and predictable at others, it’s a good effort with a curiously accurate prediction about the surge of reality programming that was on the horizon. Watching this now is interesting in that much of the movie has come to fruition with our insatiable appetite for reality shows and constant social media.  This film was ahead of it’s time. A realistic look into reality TV and where we were headed in the future.  This nice commentary on the culture of reality TV depicts the networks as the problem, but I would believe that the viewers share a majority of the blame.  I really liked this film. Funny when it needed to be and touching at times. Perhaps not quite as interesting or original as 1998’s thematic clone The Truman Show, it’s still a fair (if light) take on the cult of celebrity with some good, unexpected curves peppering the plot.

Misery

Thriller Satire 1990 R 107 mins.  Former nurse Annie Wilkes rescues her idol, romance novelist Paul Sheldon, after he crashes his car during a blizzard.  But when she learns he plans to kill off her heroine in his next volume, Annie morphs from nurturing caregiver to sadistic jailer.  This is a heart-stopping psychological horror thriller that slowly takes us through the psychotic and pathetic existence of a lonely woman with a very dark past and many secrets. Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates) tells Paul Sheldon (James Caan) “I’m your number one fan!”  She sets his broken legs, dislocated shoulder and tends to his wounds and all his needs with loving care.  Until she discovers Paul’s latest novel contains the demise of her beloved heroine, Misery, which pushes her over the edge. Paul is still unable to move, but begins to fear for his life.  This is a man in trouble only because of his celebrity.  Ah, but Annie has a solution…she will set up a writing studio and Paul will write another novel bringing Misery back to life and Paul begins to literally write for his life. (Annie  tells him, “Shh Darling. Trust me. It’s for the best. Almost done. Just one more….God, I love you!”)  The mind-bending games between the two are cunning and ever changing since Annie is never the same from day to day. Kathy Bates is amazing as she modulates her role from caring, to loneliness, to horrifying ferocity…a performance so brilliant it won her the Oscar for 1990. James Caan also delivers quite a extraordinary performance as a terrified man who is bound to his bed and is only able to act and emote with his eyes and facial expressions. This is mainly a two person film but there are wonderful bits by Richard Farnsworth as the Sheriff, Frances Sternhagen as his wife, and a brief appearance by Lauren Bacall. With a winning screenplay by William Goldman and superb direction by Rob Reiner, this is the very best adaptation of a Stephen King horror novel ever produced. Not only does Reiner depict the horror and disturbing elements of King’s novel, he includes the dark comedy that is part of his wit. We also are treated to a special appearance of “Misery” the pig.  See this for the first time, or again, and have the best time of your “cock-a-doodie” life”  Very Highly Recommended.

A Face in the Crowd

Drama 1957 NR 125 minutes. Andy Griffith plays Lonesome Rhodes: a castaway maverick and cowboy who, reluctantly, becomes a radio sensation. A masterpiece about the hypocrisy behind many of the popular and beautiful people who have either graced the media or the political scene and have let power go to their heads. Elia Kazan’s masterpiece proves that celebrity isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. When talent scout Marcia Jeffries (Patricia Neal) spots drifter Larry “Lonesome” Rhodes (Andy Griffith) and makes him a superstar, he gets a taste of the good life. But his hunger for kleig lights, fed by run-ins with famous people such as Burl Ives and Bennett Cerf (who play themselves), turns desperate, and he loses sight of who he is and what he’s truly about.

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