Archive for the ‘REVIEWS’ Category

By Kevin Kelly (reprinted from 2/2/2010 — Sundance Film Festival)

“Redneck” or “country noir” isn’t anything new. Just look at Blood Simple and No Country For Old Men as examples. But when you replace the grizzled detective or outdated lawman with a 17-year-old girl trying to take care of her family, that’s where things swing wildly off course in Winter’s Bone. Jennifer Lawrence previously impressed in Lori Petty’s autobiographical film The Poker House, and she turns in an incredibly powerful performance in this movie, directed by Debra Granik and based on Daniel Woodrell’s novel of the same name, that explores the dark nature of family and secrets in the Ozark Mountains. It won both the Grand Jury Prize in the U.S. Dramatic category and the Waldo Salt screenwriting award, and is well-deserving of both.

Ree Dolly (Lawrence) is busy trying to take care of her younger brother and sister, her nearly catatonic mother, and a bevy of stray cats and dogs in a ramshackle cabin out in the boondocks when she’s visited by the sheriff who has some unsettling news: Her father has put up both the land and the house for his bond for cooking crystal meth, and if he doesn’t show up for his court date, they’ll lose everything. So Ree has to find him before the law does, or before some of the other unsavory characters that live in this no man’s land.

Ree goes to family members for initial help, but when Uncle “Teardrop” (John Hawkes) warns her off, she knows this isn’t going to be easy. Of course she doesn’t leave well enough alone (how can she?), and the deeper she digs, the more dangerous it gets. She’s threatened with violence for trying to talk to “Thump,” and when she doesn’t listen things turn violent. It doesn’t matter to Thump or his circle that Ree is family, however distant, and the audience quickly learns that life out here is all about keeping secrets. Blood may be thicker than water, but the almighty dollar trumps them both.

Ree has no one to turn to, save for one friend with a baby who has to beg her husband for his truck to give Ree a ride. Her brother and sister are too young to understand, her mother can’t help, and everyone else including the law is searching for her father. It’s a hopeless situation, exacerbated by the fact that they have no money, hardly any food, and no relief in sight. Ree’s backup plan is to join the Army to receive a $40,000 stipend, but she quickly finds out that might not come for months, and that she can’t bring her siblings with her, let alone take care of her mother.

In spite of all this, and with the only option left to sell the land and the woods to the lumber companies, Ree grits her teeth and presses on. She’s the very definition of defiance and perseverance, and Lawrence captures that perfectly in a performance that is full of rage, sensitivity, love, and hatred. The thought of moving her family somewhere else isn’t even a question, and they’re too proud to beg. As she admonishes her younger brother of, “Don’t ask for what should be offered.”

This is by no means an action-packed film. It’s slow, methodical, and it steeps itself in the world-weary existence that Ree and her family are stuck in. It’s not a sympathetic film either, where you’re just wishing and hoping that Ree could somehow escape this life and move on to something better. Ree is an Ozark girl, through and through, and she puts family above all else, even when it puts herself in peril. There are some extremely grisly moments to be found here, but the most horrifying ones are realizing that for a whole group of Americans, this is just everyday life.

Permalink

Advertisements

Hot Docs Review: Teenage Paparazzo

by Monika Bartyzel May 11th 2010 // 1:33PM

Filed under: Documentary, Theatrical Reviews, Other Festivals

As the star of Entourage for the last six years, Adrian Grenier’s life contends with paparazzi both on and off the screen. That mass of insistent cameras is everyday fare that comes with the territory. But one day a few years ago, he was blinded by the rapid-fire explosion of one specific camera flash. At the firing end wasn’t some older pap eager for a prime picture worth thousands, it was a little blonde kid. And he wasn’t a fan; he was part of the paparazzi.

Intrigued, Grenier hunted down 13-year-old Austin Visschedyk and turned the cameras on him for a two-punch documentary called Teenage Paparazzo. Detailing the life of a teen who roams the Los Angeles streets day and night to capture celebrity pictures, and the business of paparazzi photography and tabloid journalism, Grenier tackles a thematic double bill that is an entertaining — if occasionally glossy and over-stretched — account of the culture of fame.

At the center of everything is Austin, a well-spoken thirteen year old kid who roams the streets of Los Angeles, hanging out with fellow paparazzi and clamoring for shots of tabloid darlings like Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton. Offspring of the smallest sliver of parental authority, Austin comes and goes as he pleases. Mom is sure that can she can trust her son, and doesn’t seemed worried about his late-night ways. Whether it’s 3 P.M. on a Saturday or 3 A.M. on a weeknight, he has almost free reign to follow incoming tips and hound local celebrities. He gets around the obvious educational challenges by being home-schooled, and it’s quite clear that Austin is not only well-spoken, but also a Grade-A manipulator. When teacher comes to visit, he’s a rambunctious kid. When Mom pops her head in, he’s a well-behaved student. But he gets B’s, so no alarms are raised and the 13-year-old can do what he wants.

Grenier follows Austin, grilling the kid and his fellow paps to try and figure out what makes these men (and women) tick — why they take the business to such extremes. Naturally, many aren’t too keen on Grenier’s presence, offering a nice slice of irony with the belief that he is exploiting their work. Eager to understand the life, however, Grenier perseveres and gets in on the action, picking up a camera, joining the chase, and even fighting his way into the mass to grab a picture of Brooke Shields. He wants to understand and experience the life, just as he wants to manipulate and play with it.

With the help of Paris Hilton, Grenier has many opportunities to manipulate the paparazzi, to manufacture rumors and experience the tabloid darling life. Hilton becomes a right-hand woman of sorts, popping up in many interview segments — though she has nothing worthwhile to say — and helping Grenier taunt the paps. She is, in fact, front and center so much that one has to wonder if it was part of the deal for her involvement. Her only worthwhile contribution, other than helping Grenier manipulate the photographers, is to act as an airhead. In one of the film’s funnier moments, and a totally irrelevant scene, Grenier describes the myth of Narcissus to her, as the story becomes all the more relevant to Austin’s life, and she asks him if the story is true.

Superfluous interviews slow the journey on more than one occasion. While some offer insight and valid complaint, whether it be Matt Damon discussing what attracts paparazzi or Lewis Black ranting about the lack of parenting in Austin’s life, many don’t really add to the discussion, especially when Grenier sits down and chats about the documentary with his Entourage co-stars. He remains a step removed, choosing to be respectful rather than probing, which misses the great opportunity to get some personal and engaging thoughts on the matter. When Grenier digs into the nature of celebrity, and talks to experts about the world of one-sided parasocial relationships and celebrity obsession, however, things fare better. This is their business, and they know how to give the goods.

It’s a hard line to travel. Grenier has made himself an active player in this story, wanting to walk in Austin’s shoes, and feeling responsible for his own involvement in the kid’s growing fame. The filmmaker attempts to befriend and mentor the kid, but the camera offers no insights into Grenier’s life. It’s focused in one direction like the click of the paparazzi’s camera — a one-sided hand and opinion attempting to guide its subject to a happy ending.

Matched with some pretty flashy graphics and editorial techniques, Teenage Paparazzo won’t hit as deep as it could or maybe should. But it is a fun documentary that should, at the very least, make you think and discuss paparazzi and Hollywood celebrity.

Posted via web from MovieDriver – Hollywood Teamster

Movie review: ‘Kick-Ass’

 

“Kick-Ass” is the movie our parents warned us about, the movie you don’t want your children to see. A highly seductive enterprise that’s equal parts disturbing and enticing, it will leave you speechless because its characters — especially a 12-year-old virtuoso of violence named Hit Girl — are anything but.

This shrewd mixture of slick comic-book mayhem, unmistakable sweetness and ear-splitting profanity is poised to be a popular culture phenomenon because of its exact sense of the fantasies of the young male fanboy population. Directed by Matthew Vaughn and written by Jane Goldman and Vaughn, this comic-book-come-to-life was not just based on a book by Mark Millar and John Romita Jr., but made at the same time the original comic was being created.

“I never understood why nobody did it before me,” says teenage protagonist Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) in the voice-over that starts things off. What “it” is in this case is making the decision to present yourself as a superhero even though, as the young man says, “my only superpower was being invisible to girls.”

So it’s more than the desire to “put on a mask and help people” that turns Dave into Kick-Ass, an earnest young crime fighter in an odd-looking wetsuit. He wants to impress the opposite sex, especially fetching classmate Katie Deauxma (Lyndsy Fonseca), who at first doesn’t notice him and then comes to believe he’s gay.

We’ve seen this kind of high school bildungsroman, including the currently mandatory references to masturbation, more times than anyone can count, but here the scenario is helped by the genuinely likable nature of the leads and by the fact that the romance provides an appealing backdrop that the more unnerving aspects of the film play out against.

It’s not by accident that it’s rated R for, among other things, “strong brutal violence throughout (and) pervasive language.” For after events conspire to make Kick-Ass an Internet phenomenon who ends up fighting all kinds of crime, the bad guys take notice and strike back.

Led by drug kingpin Frank D’Amico (Mark Strong) and his son Chris, soon to be Kick-Ass’ nemesis Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), the hooligans and the good guys mix it up in an ultra-violent “Kill Bill” kind of way. As zestily orchestrated by director Vaughn, who did similar work on his earlier “Layer Cake,” this is the kind of cartoonish violence, choreographed to upbeat music, that’s come to define modern action movie culture.

What makes “Kick-Ass” different is that a father-and-daughter team known as Big Daddy and Hit Girl are going the vigilante route at the same time as our hero. They’re played by Nicolas Cage and Chloe Grace Moretz in a way that already wound people up when the film opened in Britain at the end of March.

Big Daddy (real name Damon Macready) loves his daughter (real name Mindy), but for reasons of his own he has turned her into a pint-size, profanity-spewing killing machine in a purple wig and pleated skirt. Her language is so astonishingly crude that it has taken people’s attention away from all the killing she does, which is mind-boggling as well.

Yet at the same time as we’re unnerved by someone so young acting this way, what makes this film so intriguing is that, largely due to the terrific spirit and skill of young actress Moretz, if you are any kind of action film fan it’s difficult to deny the live-wire pulp energy that plays out on screen. It’s as if all the arguments about these hyper-violent films — why they are so popular, what they have done to our culture — are open for business in one convenient location. It may or may not be the end of civilization as we know it, but “Kick-Ass” certainly is Exhibit A of the here and now.

kenneth.turan@latimes.com

Copyright © 2010, The Los Angeles Times

Posted via web from MovieDriver – Hollywood Teamster

MOVIE REVIEW

 

By KENNETH TURAN Film Critic

March 12, 2010

You have to hand it to “Green Zone.” Made with daring and passion, it attempts the impossible and comes remarkably close to pulling it off. So close, in fact, that the skill and audacity used, the shock and awe of this highly entertaining attempt, are more significant than the imperfect results.

As created by director Paul Greengrass, screenwriter Brian Helgeland and star Matt Damon, this risk-taking endeavor uses the narrative skills and drive Greengrass honed beautifully on “The Bourne Ultimatum” and “The Bourne Supremacy” and marries them to reality-based political concerns. More specifically, this is a red-hot action thriller that deals candidly and unapologetically with the situation in Iraq.

Not today’s Iraq, but the country in early 2003, when the U.S. invaded and the search was on for WMD, Saddam Hussein’s much-discussed weapons of mass destruction that were the key rationale for military action. “It was a pivotal subject,” screenwriter Helgeland ( an Oscar winner for “L.A. Confidential”) has said, “in why we went to war and how the war was sold.”

To tell this story of idealism toyed with and betrayed, of a superb soldier determined to find out the truth about those weapons, Helgeland’s tightly written script has gone down parallel paths while taking great care not to let either story line overwhelm the other.

On the one hand, Helgeland has artfully constructed a roman à clef in which numerous key real-life figures, including New York Times reporter Judith Miller and Iraqi politician Achmed Chalabi, have been given fictional counterparts.

More than that, the specifics of controversial decisions (for example “Deba’athification” and the disbanding of the Iraqi army) taken from such journalistic accounts as Charles Ferguson’s documentary “No End in Sight” and the book credited with being an inspiration for the film, Rajiv Chandrasekaran’s “Imperial Life in the Emerald City,” have worked their way into the story.

But it would be a mistake to consider “Green Zone” (named after the American enclave in central Baghdad) to be any kind of political tract.

First and foremost it aims, and succeeds, at being the kind of entertainment fans of the “Bourne” films would appreciate. As director Greengrass writes in a foreword to a new “Emerald City” paperback, he wanted to encourage that audience to “consider whether the mistrust and paranoia that characterized Bourne’s world was so far-fetched after all.”

As a filmmaker, Greengrass showed as far back as his superb “Bloody Sunday” that he is one of the world’s best at re-creating reality-based chaos.

Working with his usual team (cinematographer Barry Ackroyd, production designer Dominic Watkins, editor Christopher Rouse and visual effects supervisor Peter Chiang), the director conveys a fine sense of the mind-warping turmoil on the ground, as well as the quicksilver landscape of shifting values, alliances and loyalties that characterized the occupation.

In this he is helped enormously by his “Bourne” star, Matt Damon. Almost imperceptibly, Damon is maturing into a formidable leading man, always slightly different, always completely believable, an actor whose quiet strengths have begun to mirror his recent “Invictus” director Clint Eastwood.

Damon plays U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer Roy Miller, a superbly competent head of a team of soldiers risking their lives to find WMD. But despite raid after raid, the weapons are nowhere to be found, and Miller is good enough at his job to want to find out why his men are being put in harm’s way in the service of what appears to be bogus intelligence.

Persistent despite the run-around he gets from his superiors, Chief Miller comes to the attention of Martin Brown (a just-right Brendan Gleeson), the rumpled old CIA hand who’s been in Baghdad since the Flood.

Brown is the first person to give Miller a sense of the unreal, counterintuitive world of Green Zone power politics, where nothing is as it seems. When Miller tells the CIA man, “I thought we were all on the same side,” Brown caustically answers, “Don’t be naive.”

Among the other people Miller draws into his quest are Wall Street Journal reporter Lawrie Dayne (Amy Ryan), the compromised Judith Miller knockoff, and Clark Poundstone, a Defense Intelligence agent in sync with Washington’s party line about the good that’s being done in Iraq. He’s played by Greg Kinnear, an actor with something of the affect of the real-life L. Paul Bremer, who was the head of the Coalition Provisional Authority.

Helped by the pithy nature of Helgeland’s script and Greengrass’ hard-edged, realistic directing style, these performances are all excellent, as are Khalid Abdalla as an Iraqi patriot, Yigal Naor as an elusive Iraqi general, and Jason Isaacs as a ruthless Special Forces operative.

Even though it comes awfully close, “Green Zone” can’t totally keep its balance right up to the end.

Precisely because so much of this film is so good at verisimilitude, the Hollywood tendencies of its last sections are not as satisfying as what’s come before, the forceful and engaging nature of the action footage notwithstanding.

Yet, though we regret that final wobbliness, “Green Zone” leaves us a great deal to be grateful for. It gives full weight to the moral complexities of the Iraq situation, something that is rare in any film, let alone a thriller, and if it wears its heart on its sleeve, it’s hard to argue with a film that insists “the reasons we go to war always matter.” Can one man make a difference? this film asks. If his name is Paul Greengrass and he has this kind of team behind him, the answer is yes.

kenneth.turan @latimes.com

Copyright © 2010, The Los Angeles Times

Posted via web from LA MovieDriver

Movie Review – ‘The Wolfman’

Posted: February 12, 2010 in MOVIES, REVIEWS

slice_wolfman_movie_poster_02.jpg

The remake of The Wolfman isn’t so much a throwback to the classic horror icon as much as it turns the Universal movie monster into an action star.  For a movie that’s been sewn together from different directors, different cuts, and even different scores, The Wolfman manages to come out as a good film despite its scattered tone, limited characterization, and over-reliance on gore.  The Wolfman shouldn’t work as a movie but somehow it succeeds not only as a fun action flick, but as seductive eye candy with thoughtful subtext about sexual repression and an exploration of mercy killing as monstrous.

The Wolfman movie - wolfman (1).jpg

The year is 1891 and Lawrence Talbot (Benecio Del Toro) has returned home to Blackmoor, England after the news that his brother was killed by either a beast or a madman.  Well, “killed” is a bit of an understatement.  Ben Talbot suffered an extreme case of flesh-ripped-off-skeleton.  Lawrence, feeling guilt over having abandoned his brother to a fate of living with their mad father (Anthony Hopkins), decides to stay and find what sent his brother’s skin and life away.  He also wants to comfort Ben’s fiancée Gwen (Emily Blunt) but in that sweet, sexually repressed Victorian England kind-of-way.

Working off a lead that Ben had been interacting with gypsies, Lawrence goes to investigate at their camp, but with it being a full moon, the creature comes along and decides to ruin everyone’s day.  This is where The Wolfman shows its true colors as an action movie.  There are no jump scares in Wolfman as much as excited anticipation about which villager is going to get the business next (hint: it’s the one who looks scared and confused and has no one else in the frame with him).  After a hearty time of ripping out people’s hearts, the beast attacks and bites Lawrence.  The gypsies manage to save his life, but we know that was probably not the wisest of ideas.

The Wolfman has breathless pacing that both helps and hinders the film.  Lawrence is attacked by the beast within the first 10-15 minutes and the film never slows down.  For an action film, that’s terrific, but for a film that’s decked out in gorgeously gothic sets and costumes with lush cinematography by Shelly Johnson, it feels like we’re missing out at times.  It’s obvious that there’s a lot of this film on the cutting room, especially when it comes to the characters.  Hopkins gets to be delightfully crazy and Hugo Weaving, as Inspector Abberline, gets to be a bad-ass anti-villain, but Lawrence and Gwen only come alive because Del Toro and Blunt know how to act, which is great because there’s nothing in this cut of the film that distinguishes their characters as real people.  None of the cuts wreck the narrative to the point where you fall through a plot whole too big to escape, but this isn’t a movie built around a slow burn of suspense and thoughtful character study.  It’s about the Wolfman tearing folks up.

The Wolfman movie Benicio Del Toro (5).jpg

Even though it indulges in gore and violence, The Wolfman is an earnest movie.  It really does want to evoke the classic Universal monster and sometimes that comes off as cheesy, but that self-seriousness is crucial to the film’s success.  You’re asking audiences to buy into a man-wolf hybrid.  The special effects are incredible but the audience can’t treat the creature as real if the film doesn’t do it first.  Without that belief The Wolfman would be a cowardly parody trying to hide in irony and smart self-reference rather than trying to do right by the classic movie that came before.

But the earnest approach and simple story belies not only the beauty of the film’s world, but David Self and Andrew Kevin Walker’s intelligent script.  Not only have they reset the character back to Victorian England, they’ve seized on why that era is important to the character.  Not only is there the historical context of sexual repression, but there’s also the conflict between scientific hubris and man in his “natural state”.  Our main character is given over to the beast yet the advent of science dismisses such a literal transformation and this misunderstanding leads to…unpleasantness.  Science, the representation of order and reason, is in direct conflict with the savage and animalistic nature of man.  It’s a nice idea to pick up in between bouts of the Wolfman showing his hatred of other people’s internal organs.

I also liked the subtext about the nature of mercy killing and if that’s an act of human kindness or a savage act working under the pretense of nobility.  The film makes sure that Lawrence neither has the ability or the opportunity to kill himself, but he wants to die and we learn early in the film that silver bullets only work if they’re fired from someone who loves the beast.  It’s a twisted message that the only way to save someone who’s lost their humanity is to kill them.

The Wolfman doesn’t wade around in these ideas or anything deeper than a puddle of blood.  It’s a bite-sized Milky Way stuffed inside a filet mignon.  Both the action scenes and the setting work well, but it would have been nice to embrace the full drama and gothic horror of the setting rather than racing to the next slaughterfest.

Rating: B-

Posted via web from MovieDriver – Hollywood Teamster

Roger Ebert on ‘Smash His Camera’s’ Ron Galella: A national treasure

January 29, 2010 |  7:00 am

Jackie O Talk about karmic connections. I had just started reading Roger Ebert’s wonderful essay about Ron Galella, the notoriously relentless paparazzo, who is profiled in the new documentary “Smash His Camera,” when I heard the news about the death of J.D. Salinger, who might have been the only celebrity reclusive enough to have actually escaped the jittery glare of Galella’s camera. As for virtually every other star, from the swinging ’60s on, Galella rarely missed his prey.

Galella snapped ’em all, the kind of star that you have to refer to only by one name: Sinatra, Jackie O., Capote, Liz and Dick, Brando, Jagger (both Mick and Bianca), Elvis, Sophia, Redford, Nicholson. I haven’t seen the film, which debuted this week at Sundance, but the reviews have largely been good. Ebert nicely captures the stylish if slightly sleaze-ball appeal of Galella, who represents a natural bridge between the first generation of tabloid icons like Weegee and today’s less distinctive TMZ-style celeb stalkers. How did Galella get his money shots? Here’s what Ebert has to say about Galella’s working style, which makes it sound as though he would’ve made a great CIA agent or Hollywood private eye:

He hid in bushes and behind trees. Driving like a madman, he outraced celebrities to their destinations. He bribed doormen, chauffeurs, head waiters, security guards. He lurked in parking garages. He knew the back ways into ballrooms. He forged credentials. He chased his prey for blocks on foot. Year after year, he outworked, outran and outsmarted the competition, and he ran with a ferocious pack. Even now when he is wealthy, he hasn’t stopped standing in the cold to get his shot.

Ebert goes on to recount Galella’s epic battles with Jackie Onassis, who eventually got a court order preventing Galella from being within 75 yards of her at any time. Marlon Brando was once so ticked off by Galella that he punched him in the jaw so hard the photographer lost five teeth. No matter. The next time he went after Brando, he wore a football helmet. (Ebert has the photo up on his site, along with Galella’s classic shot of Jackie O. crossing the street, the wind blowing her hair across her face. She’s never looked more glamorously enigmatic.)

At Sundance, someone asked Robert Redford about “Smash His Camera,” surely knowing that Redford, like so many celebs, had his share of run-ins with Galella. It turns out Redford had one victory, eluding Galella while shooting “Three Days of the Condor,” though it wasn’t easy, because it involved almost as much skulduggery as Redford uses in the film itself.

So was Galella a scuzzy pest or a brilliant photographer? Or both? Ebert makes the case that as much as Galella harassed Jackie O., no one else captured her essence the way he did. As with most things, we’ll remember Galella’s work long after his pain-in-the-butt intrusiveness is forgotten. After all, we are all voyeurs at heart. As Ebert recalls, it was Andy Warhol who said, “A great photograph shows the famous doing something unfamous.”  

Photo: Jackie Onassis. Credit: Ron Galella

Posted via web from MovieDriver – Hollywood Teamster

Teenage Paparazzo

 (Documentary)

Teenage Paparazzo
‘Teenage Paparazzo’

A Reckless Prods. presentation in association with Jloar Prods. and Bert Marcus Prods. Produced by Adrian Grenier, Matthew Cooke, Bert Marcus, John Loar, Robin Garvick and Lynda Pribyl. Executive producer, Sandlot Venture Group. Directed by Adrian Grenier. Written by Grenier, Thomas De Zentotita.

 With: Austin Visschedyk, Adrian Grenier, Jane Visschedyk, Paris Hilton, Eva Longoria Parker, Matt Damon, Alec Baldwin, Mario Lopez, Lindsay Lohan, Perez Hilton, Alwy Visschedyk, Jane Sieberts, Steve Sands, Jerry Ferrara, Kevin Connolly, Kevin Dillon, Lewis Black, Whoopi Goldberg.
 

The curiosity attracted by a “Teenage Paparazzo” as driven as any adult snapper yields a tricky helmer-subject relationship, celebrities discussing celebrity, and sophisticated musings on the ever-escalating American obsession with fame in Adrian Grenier’s excellent feature. This is Grenier’s second full-length docu behind (and in front of) the camera, and its behind-the-glitz peeks, human drama and sharp guiding intelligence should get it wider exposure than his first, 2002’s “Shot in the Dark.” Whether that will translate to niche theatrical release or a straight path to cable — the helmer’s principal employer, HBO, would be the natural fit — remains to be seen.

Grenier begins by describing his own “really weird” experience as the object of paparazzi attention, since what he’s famous for is playing a movie star who draws just such attention, on a TV series (“Entourage”) that satirizes the world of modern Hollywood celebrity. One night out, blinded as usual by flashlights, he was struck by the presence of a towheaded little boy, 13-year-old Austin Visschedyk, among the most aggressive career “paps.”

Wanting to explore that profession (the word actually comes from the Italian one for “mosquito”), he befriended Visschedyk. At an age when most kids only daydream about the Jonas Brothers and Miley Cyrus, the Hollywood native is actively chasing them for stolen photo ops, dashing between moving cars at 3 a.m. for shots that might net him up to $2,000.

He’s clearly talented, as well as amazingly precocious (and foul-mouthed). Though questions are certainly begged: Is this anything for a 13-year-old to be doing? Shouldn’t he be at school? (He’s home-schooled.) Where’s the parental supervision? (His mostly supportive mom and mildly disapproving dad, who live separately, are bullied by their son into exerting almost no disclipinary control.)

In exchange for actually hanging out with a celebrity, Visschedyk becomes Grenier’s own subject, as well as his guide to the frantic, high-stakes, adrenaline rush of paparazzi work. At first the adult photogs are highly suspicious, thinking the star only wants to make them look bad — which would be easy. But the helmer goes to great lengths to understand their profession, even taking a stab at ambush-shutterbugging fellow celebs himself, and interviewing prominent targets such as Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton.

Of course, many have negative feelings about such constant invasion — something the paps rather resentfully believe is the natural tradeoff for wealth and fame — though several allow that Visschedyk is so “cute” they don’t mind him so much. But when the teen’s novelty begins to attract media beyond Grenier’s own film crew, Grenier starts to worry he’s helped create a monster.

Pic also brings in fans, psychologists, historians, tabloid editors and more to explore our absorption in “parasocial relationships”: identifying, whether via sympathy or snickers, with public figures whose character and problems we only “know” through TV or tabloids. (Stats note the average American now spends 6 1/2 hours communicating not with live people, but with media — not including cell phones.)

Covering a wide range of material and ideas in engaging fashion, “Teenage Paparazzo” reps a triumph of organization for Grenier and editor Jim Curtis Mol. Lensing is all over the map, from high-grade HD to grainy on-the-run footage.

Posted via web from MovieDriver – Hollywood Teamster