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Starring: Al Pacino, Catherine Keener, Jay Mohr, Evan Rachel Wood, Elias Koteas and Rachel Roberts.
Directed By: Andrew Niccol
Rated: PG- 13
Official site


Al Pacino is a genius….pure and simple. Too bold a statement? Get your own review.

Simone is an intelligent comedy with talent oozing from every thread of its celluloid. Okay, the joke, Simone is a digitally produced icon, gets a tad old towards the end. But watching Al effortlessly deliver comedy, as easily as say Richard the third, one tends to forgive any overkill in his hands.

Story goes Hollywood director Viktor Taransky (Al -do no wrong- Pacino) is a near wash up. His own ex-wife Elaine (stunning Catherine Keener) has given him the velvet boot from her studio. Ooch.

While clearing out his desk a mad man and computer wiz, Hank (Elias Koteas) approaches the disheveled Vik. Hank tells a tale of a movie star creation he's produced. This star doesn't require a colossal trailer, segregated Mike & Ike's or even a paycheck. His starlet is just pixels. A Synthespian. A vactor (virtual actor).

Vik escapes with his own problems and forget the whole ludicrous idea….

As fate and plot would have it Vik inherits the technology from the recently demised computer wiz.

So he takes a chance and pops in the maniacal misfit's program and viola Simone becomes.

Simone is a hodge podge of all the greats that came before. A smidge of Hepburn, a dash of Garbo, even a wee of Lauren Bacall. Vik learns how to manipulate the "star" and infuses her into his would-have-been-a-failure-film, Sunrise Sunset.

Simone is an instant hit. The public cannot get enough of her. Thanks to Photoshop and clever diversions Viktor is able to keep the illusion alive - so to speak.

Then Vik realizes perhaps he's made a dreadful mistake. He only wanted recognition and a pat on the back….and we careen into the third act.

Al Pacino seems like he'd be fun to slip into a seedy eatery with and gorge on home style Italian and wads of red wine! Can't you just see him wearing the lampshade and tango-ing to the delight of un amused patrons? Maybe it's me….

Catherine Keener, who I adore, finally gets a meaty big budget role! She has a boy toy in this too. Hehehe. Her boyfriend Kent (Jeffrey Pierce) is at least ten years younger! Great casting. Ms. Keener shared her glow of working with Afonso here.

Young Evan Rachel Wood plays Lainey daughter to Al and Catherine. This kid really shined. I mean she easily could have been zinged in the heat of their star shine but did not. Watch for her.

Elias Koteas is really a studmuffin folks. Here he briefly and perfectly plays Hank, Simone's creator, complete with a madman's eye patch and that signature unshaven insanity stricken façade. Rent anything with his name and you wont be disappointed.

Jay Mohr as semi-snooty daff perpetual co-star Hal captured that certain feeling one gets when around baloney! His scenes are - per usual - fantabulous. Not quite jumpable, he's still aging quite nicely. Slurp.

The inside jokes and not-so-inside jokes are well written and impeccably delivered by all.
What makes this not only watchable but a genuine hoot is the talented cast. Dear me you get Al, of course but also, Catherine Keener, Jay Mohr, Winona Ryder (playing a pouty bitch hag starlet to a tee) and some notables I wont spoil for you!

Bravo for the razor sharp metaphor about the silliness of celebrity too. The screenwriter/director Andrew Niccol (who also did brilliant unfathomably unloved Gattaca and Truman) has created a virtual laughfest if, perhaps, a pinch too long. Looking at his resume Andy seems a wee bit obsessed, like Spielberg, with what technology can do to us if we are not careful … (<- insert dramatic orchestrated crescendo here please)! Enjoy.

Snack Recommendation: Faux chicken tacos and vegan cheese enchiladas from Lenor's NoHo.



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