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3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9 out of 5 stars
Celebrity [DVD] [1999]
Format: DVD|Change
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on 13 June 2017
great film
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on 25 August 2017
It's just what I expected! :)
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on 16 January 2016
When he gets it right, he really gets it right, and in Celebrity (1998) Woody Allen gets it right.

Lee (Kenneth Branagh) is an American journalist, reporting on Hollywood’s elite. The story centres around Lee’s love life, it’s not so much boy meets girl boy loses girl, more boy meets girl and then wants another girl and another.

As commentary, Allen's script displays the absurdity of celebrity, questioning why we choose some people to celebrate and not others. It’s the same with the protagonist's love life; for a short period of time he lusts for a woman, celebrating her, and then the fad passes and he wants another.

Watching this reminded me of Robert Altman's The Player (1992), although it’s nowhere near as dark.

The film’s highpoint is Branagh doing a pitch perfect impression of a Woody Allen character that would have been played by Woody Allen. Plus those self-referencing jokes that Allen writes, such as when one character asks if they want to see a certain director’s film, to where the other character says they don't because he’s so pretensions and all his films are in black and white. Celebrity is of course filmed in black and white. This is a big reason why I return to Allen's back catalogue. He’s the first to make fun of himself for the enjoyment of his audience.

I prefer these smarter Allen comedies compared to the slapstick humour of his early films such as Bananas (1971). This is well worth a watch for a good script and an exceptional performance from Branagh.
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Celebrity occupies a period in Woody Allen's filmography where he's disappearing from in front of the camera. He would still occasionally star, in films like 'Curse of the Jade Scorpion' or 'Small Time Crooks', but from here on in, ensembles of name stars eager to get a Woody under their belt, so to speak, with the clear Woody-role given to a younger man - in this case Kenneth Branagh - were destined to become the new norm.

Attractively shot in black and white, it fails, however, to attain the humour, art or emotion of other monochrome Allen movies (from Stardust Memories to Manhattan, or Broadway Danny Rose to Shadows and Fog). And despite the many heavyweight actors and actresses, and the slightly dark edge to its aimless slice-of-life-ness (another more frequent Allen trope from this point on), it feels kind of light. Woody-lite, perhaps?

It's certainly not bad, but it's certainly not Woody at his best either. As Woody has spent an ever longer proportion of his professional adult life as a great success, so his films about rich folks goofing around have also become more of a norm.

This can sometimes mean the central characters - both Branagh's and DiCaprio's in this film - aren't that attractive or easy to sympathise with. As a friend of mine said, after watching this, Branagh does quite a convincing Allen. But for all his aping of the Allenesque, he isn't Allen. And had Allen played the role, I suspect he'd have been easier to identify with and sympathise with.

But, as he's said oftentimes himself, Allen wants to continue writing boy meets/gets girl stuff, and feels he's not right for the romantic lead roles any more. (Don't older people experience life/love? Are their experiences any less valid/interesting?).

Sometimes this leaves Allen's later behind-the-camera-only movies feeling distinctly odd. Mis-cast, perhaps? I feel this especially true where the leads are essentially kids ('Anything Else' springs to mind).

If you're new to Woody, don't start here. If you know and love him, it's worth seeing. Within Allen's own oeuvre I'd say this is a two or three star film. But in the context of modern mainstream cinema it's still better than most, hence four stars.
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on 7 October 2004
Kenneth Branagh plays the character Allen so brilliantly invented through his madcap comedies in the past. Branagh inherited this role, I think, because Allen's age prevented him playing it in this film. Allen directs his protege masterfully in this exploration of the nature of celebrity and status. He brings to it comedy, romance, tragedy, politics, absurdity and great emotion, with Allen out of depth in none of these seas. Lovers of Allen's madcap comedies will be less enthralled by this film than those who admire his direction and general approach. There's plenty of irony to spare: the exploration of celebrity is itself celebrated by many famous faces contributing, whether in main or cameo roles: Kenneth Branagh, Judy Davis, Leonardo DiCaprio, Melanie Griffith, Winona Ryder, and Charlize Theron all make an appearance.
Overall: Well worth the money. If you've never seen a Woody Allen film then hold on before you buy this; watch Bananas or Take The Money And Run for a comedy classic, something like Annie Hall for a bit of romantic comedy brilliance, and perhaps something like Crimes & Misdemeanours for a holistic Allen experience. Films like September or Interiors aren't for the novice.
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on 11 May 2012
The 90`s were a good decade for Woody and here`s another gem. Great acting all round and i love Branagh in this! I mean let`s not forget he`s playing a character who is meant to be irritating and pretentious. Branagh hits the mark as well as having some really hilarious scenes. Celebrity is not a well regarded Woody Allen film and although it's not up there with his very best, it's still a very solid effort.
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on 26 September 2014
Awesome film, I really enjoyed it. Quick delivery and the item was in perfect condition.
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on 30 March 2015
I really enjoyed this film, having somehow missed it before now - it's actually very funny, and Kenneth Branagh is terrific. He plays the central character, a Woody Allenesque, fairly unsuccessful writer who meets a few very successful celebrities in a kind of tangential way. The one-liners come thick and fast, so you have to listen carefully.
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on 22 June 2003
Woody Allen in black and white, after "Shadows and Fog" (1992) to tell the stories behind celebrity. New York, nowdays, as a stage, as a puzzle of dazzling characters trying to be celebrities or trying to live as celebrities. Almost playing themselves, a numerous cast with great actors: Kenneth Branagh, Melanie Griffith, Judy Davies, Joe Mantegna, Leonardo diCaprio, Winona Ryder and Charlize Theron.
The movie is a reflexion about fame, about famous people and their behaviours to the public and in private. Woody Allen has done better, like "Radio Days" (1987) but the excelent cinematography and Woody's touch are always good arguments.
Unfortunately, Woody Allen doesn't appreciate special features...
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on 5 August 2014
there were no subtitles on the disc, despite being listed as such- if you are deaf or HOH, then the disc is useless for you as it was for me
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