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Thread: "Simone" succeeds as satire even with a comedy-challenged Pacino.

  1. #1

    "Simone" succeeds as satire even with a comedy-challenged Pacino.

    Responding to my recent web review of "The Emperor's New Clothes," in which I praised the cinematographer's shot of a sunrise, a crew member gently wrote to me he and some other special effects people had worked a few weeks to create that shot. I felt like Michael Bay, director of "Pearl Harbor," who allegedly couldn't tell the difference between his original footage and the digital ones.

    Andrew Niccol's "Simone," starring Al Pacino, has a conceit that points up my unusual moment of naiveté with that sunrise: Pacino's director has lost his female lead, forcing him to create a digital actress, played with undigital beauty by Rachel Roberts. The world believes she is real and forces him to continue his deception. This conceit, like the "Truman Show, which Niccol wrote," is bright: we all are part of the joke with our fawning over our fantasy stars and our inability to separate the illusion of film from our daily reality. After all, Einstein said, "Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one."

    Although like "Truman Show" "Simone" falters when it relies on slapstick (witness the mannequin episode) or silliness (witness the sleazy tabloid investigation scenes), it works when it trumpets the truth about our artificial celebrities, the dangers of technology, and our need to connect with real people. That it succeeds as satire even with a comedy-challenged Pacino is a tribute to the basic truth about our struggle with appearance and reality.

    This is a better film than Steven Soderbergh's Hollywood satire this summer," Full Frontal," but it comes nowhere near the intelligence of Lynch's "Mulholland Drive." I guess we'll just have to put up with the endless fascination of Hollywood with its own process and hope for more films like "Simone" that dare to satirize our illusory life as well.

    As T.S. Eliot said, "Humankind cannot bear very much reality."

  2. #2

    can't see simone as anythng but awful

    Oh sure, Catherine Keener, Winona Ryder, Al Pacino, who wouldn't go see a film starring even one of these folks. But all three equals must see! Written and directed by Andrew Niccol, the same fellow who wrote The Truman Show, an interesting look at the ultimate evolution of reality television. In S1m0ne (OK, that's it - way too hard to type, I now revert to Simone) Niccol continues his exploration of technologies subversion of our humanity. Gattaca, with Ethan Hawke, Uma Thurman, and Jude Law, was his first. A futuristic thriller about genetics and an attempt to perfect the species. Simone is the same object (technology running roughshod over humanity) from a different perspective. Simone is a computer generated creation whose fame soon outstrips the wildest imaginings of her progenitor. The artificial creation takes on a lifer of her own, so to speak, and the resultant comedic and ironic twists and turns are sufficient to power several feature films... in movie hell, maybe.

    Act one has Elaine Christian (Keener) terminating her ex-husband, Viktor Taransky (Pacino) when his star (Ryder) walks out on her contract because someone else has a bigger trailer. The pastiche of scenes that make up Act One are as contrived and forced as any I have ever seen. The dialogue is pretentious and overblown, the constructs juvenile, the editing choppy, the acting unconvincing. The balance of the film is a trifling better than the first act, in the sense that cuts are better than burns (fewer nerve endings are effected in cuts). The "message" we are left with in this mess is "fake is OK, just don't lie about it." That would seem to be a compromise of Mr. Niccol's message from his earlier works.

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