Top positive review
One of Woody's best, and most under appreciated films..
Reviewed in the United States on August 9, 2008
"Celebrity" is one of Woody's best, and most under appreciated and also unjustly attacked films. The production is first rate, the characters diverse, and the acting -- from Kenneth Branagh, Judy Davis, Leonardo DiCaprio, Melanie Griffith, Joe Mantegna -- as good as in any Allen film. It is a wonderful and highly observant film, that seems to offend many for reasons that no one seems able to really express, other than by resorting to vituperative adjectives and hand wringing.
As far as I can tell, it offends some people because it is thought to be "more of the same" late "Manhattan" period Allen ensemble work -- pity Mozart if he had been cranking out symphonies for these complainers; it is thought to be annoying because Kenneth Branagh does what is, really, a wonderful Allen impression, Woody being too old by the time was made to play the lead in the story; because the characters are more fully developed, and so perhaps more subtle and less immediately amusing, versions of the classic Allen character types that, by the time the film was made, had become well known to audiences impatient for novelty and new amusements from Allen; because, perhaps, many solid middle American types have such an instinctive and deep seated hatred for the particular New York types that populate Allen films that this film evidently pushed the buttons of those audience members to extremes that mandated vicious opining in revenge; and, perhaps, last but not least, because Allen films tend to attract either comedy lovers who are put off by misanthropic elements, or misanthropes who are put off by overly human and flawed characters that don't live up to their notions of worthiness, or which make light of misanthropic virtues.
There's a reason Woody made Stardust Memories, also one of his finest films. The raging disappointment expressed by some toward his more challenging films, and to some of his more phoned in and forgettable ones, points to the creative conflict, and conflicted audience reactions, highlighted in Stardust Memories. All that aside, "Celebrity" is a marvelous film, that surely deserves a better DVD transfer than it receives here. Hopefully, when the entire Allen catalog is given a much needed 16:9 remastering someday, "Celebrity" will re-emerge and be appreciated by new audiences.