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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]
Police, Adjective (ROMANIA)
Next screening: Friday June 11/ 2:15pm/ The State Theatre
New Wave Romanian cinema has hit Sydney Film Festival, marking growing international interest and appreciation of Eastern European films. Along with the official competition pick, If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle (Florin Serban), the program also includes Police, Adjective/Politist, Adjectiv from writer/director Corneliu Porumboiu.
Winning the jury prize in the Un Certain Regard section in Cannes 2009, Police, Adjective follows the case of detective, Cristi (Dragos Bocur), a loner cop who works by his own rules, ignoring or avoiding his Captain (Vlad Ivanov). After the denouncement (a word with huge connotations in ex-communist countries) of one friend Victor, for being a drug dealer, by another- Alex, Cristi puts the boys under surveillance. But finding little more than a bit of recreational hashish smoking and a third female friend, Cristi is reluctant to arrest Victor, who could face a seven year sentence. Instead Cristi continuously trails the trio in an effort to find the real supplier.
The use of time in this film is very different from what we are accustomed to in English-language cinema. Especially in what is essentially a police procedural film. Porumboiu unapologetically uses long scenes of Cristi’s surveillance with no dialogue and often little movement.
It is however the character interactions between long, drawn-out scenes which make this film. Cristi’s conversations with colleagues, his discussion of semantics with his Captain and his witty repartee with his wife (Irina Saulescu) are all cinematic gold. The dialogue is funny, clever and insightful. You spend the time during the film’s tortuous stretches of silence hoping for more human interaction on screen.
Police, Adjective is both comedic and tragic, with the central character, Cristi’s modern understanding of police work, and the recent history of Romania’s oppressive state firmly in opposition. This is a police drama without guns, violence or urgency- instead a slow-burning tale about the power of words. [BETH WILSON]