The Brag

[Sydney Film Festival 2010] Review: Teenage Paparazzo

In Arts, Film Reviews, Sydney Film Festival 2010 on June 11, 2010 at 12:19 pm

Teenage Paparazzo (USA)

Next screening: Thursday June 12/ 8:30pm/ Event Cinema

Adrian Grenier (of Vince Chase Entourage fame) was fascinated when one night, amongst the usual paparazzi circus he spotted blond-haired, braced-toothed youngster, Austin Visschedyk, snapping away. Grenier sought out the 13 yr old photographer, deciding to make a film about the teenage paparazzo.

This documentary is really about the concept of fame in the 21st Century. Where Perez Hilton is both celebrity commentator and celebrity and stars such as Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan (all interviewed during the film) seem to almost exist because of the paparazzi gaze.

While Grenier’s aim as filmmaker is to investigate this child paparazzi phenomena,  Grenier the celebrity seems intent on turning the tables on the paparazzi and focusing the camera on them; a change the photographers don’t seem to enjoy or appreciate.

Using a mixture of celebrity interviews (Whoopi Goldberg, Eva Longoria Parker, Matt Damon, Alec Baldwin and the Entourage cast) as well as media insiders insights and media commentators analysis, Grenier’s film looks at why we have become a celebrity-obsessed culture.

The problem with this sort of social commentary is that Grenier is a celebrity and this impacts on not only the film, but also on its subject, Austin.  Precocious to start off with, this coupled with ineffectual parenting and celebrity attention, Austin transforms into a monster during the documentary. With offers of his own reality TV show and Teen Vogue shoots, he decides that he too wants to be ‘famous’, like Grenier.

Unsurprisingly Grenier comes off well in his documentary, and is able to see that as much as he would like to think he was only observing and helping Austin, he has also exploited him. Like the photo-ops that Grenier fabricates for the film, it is hard to say to what extent this film, whilst very entertaining, is also a manipulation of sorts. [BW]

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