You can learn a lot about society by seeing who it celebrates. That's the message in Celebrity, a funny typically-neurotic Woody Allen film.

Celebrity follows the life of an estranged journalist Lee Simon (Kenneth Branagh) who appears to be blessed with some of the best and worst luck a human being could have. On the one hand, he attracts gorgeous women who are willing to do almost anything for him (though one claims her body is owned by her husband but her head isn't?!?). On the other hand, he invariably screws things up such that in the end he is left alone, as his dreams and ambitions drift away with the waves.

The movie is also about the lives of the rich and the famous and the power they wield over others. Brandon Darrow (Leonardo DiCaprio, in a non-typical bad boy role), for example, is a famous actor sought after by Simon to star in the script he's hawking. Simon does everything to please Darrow but that only lands him in trouble (and a $6000 debt!). Likewise, people currying favours from Simon (given his journalist status) are left in the cold. The lesson: like with everywhere else, there are few nice people in the industry. There is some commentary about celebrating and glorifying people, but it gets lost in the shuffle that is Simon's woes.

Celebrity remains interesting because of the famous actors playing the characters that Simon flirts with, including Wynona Ryder, Melanie Lee Griffith, Famke Janssen, and Charlize Theron. As is typical with many Woody Allen films, the movie is extremely hilarious at times and manages to keep you amused through-out. The film is done entirely in pretentious artsy-fartsy black and white.

Lee Simon as a character is reminiscent of Sherman McCoy from The Bonfire of the Vanities. It's tempting to look at the character of Simon as a portrayal of Woody Allen (particularly given Branagh's excellent mimicry), and perhaps this is what the Director intended. If this is the case, Allen either has a confused view of himself or enjoys taking us all for a ride.

Movie ram-blings || Ram Samudrala || me@ram.org