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Teenage Paparazzo, The Last Exorcism, Lebanon and Hugh Hefner, Playboy Activist and Rebel

A good photo of a movie star looking good, bad or better yet silly is worth big money to the paparazzi who stalk celebrities. The man who plays Vincent Chase on TV investigates how they (including a very young one) do their work. In other films Hugh Hefner explains himself, an exorcist reveals his tricks and Avatar returns in all its 3D glory.

TEENAGE PAPARAZZO: This is a surprisingly thoughtful look at today’s obsession with celebrities, the “insane” world of Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, Perez Hilton (no relation, it’s a made-up name) and many others. But not so much Matt Damon who says he’s too normal. They all talk in this lively documentary that turns in on itself like a well-tied knot. The film is made by Adrian Grenier who is a celebrity himself because he plays one in the hit TV show, Entourage. His subject is the mob of photographers, or paparazzi, who stalk the Brads and Britneys to feed images to the tabloids and magazines. But his particular point of entry is one who stood out in the pack, a 13-year-old boy named Austin Visschedyk. That’s him in the centre snapping pics of Adrian and Paris.  

 

How did he get involved? Why does his mother let him stay out late at night snapping pictures? What do the pros think of him? Grenier gets the answers but also explores the bigger questions. What do people get out of watching celebrities so closely? “Parasocial relationships” says one thinker. A type of community, says another. “Acknowledgement,” is suggested. Along with the talk, there are lots of entertaining clips, Bruce Willis breaking a camera, for instance. Paparazzi swarming limos. Matt Damon amazed that people ask him not about being a movie star but about being famous. Then Grenier finds a showbiz version of science’s uncertainty principle. His interest causes young Austin to change. He becomes famous himself when the news media find him. He’s a “pipsqueak” in an Australian headline.  He’s called “adorable” in a CNN interview. Naturally it all goes to his head and Grenier, to his credit, takes some responsibility and tries to fix things. Real drama and social insight blend in this fascinating film. (Tinseltown) 4 out of 5   

 

LEBANON: A brilliant film about war and how it forces young soldiers to grow up fast. The time is 1982. Israel sends a force into southern Lebanon to clear out a  Palestinian stronghold and suffers what some call its own Viet Nam. That’s because its forces stand aside when Lebanese Christians carry out a massacre in two refugee camps. It split society and forced a Prime Minister to retire. The debate rages to this day and has now produced three movies. Last year’s Waltz With Bashir used animation to depict the horror of war. Lebanon uses fear and inexperience, claustrophobia and a form of blindness. Four young soldiers are in the first tank sent into the country. Their mission is to check out a town said to harbor terrorists. They get orders on the radio and from a couple of visits from a major. Their only view of the scene is through a gunsight. They’re shut in, but rolling on anyway, not exactly sure what they’re doing. When they get to the town, they find its already been bombed into rubble. They’re told to keep going and end up in a real battle. Along the way they catch sight of the horrors of war (a family shot, a man blown up in a car, a mother crying for her lost daughter). Inside the tank, they argue, joke and bicker as explosions and gunfire sound outside. Director Samuel Maoz based the film on his own experiences in that war. It’s intense, real and well-acted. Winner of the top prize at last year’s Venice Film Festival. (Ridge Theatre) 4 out of 5

HUGH HEFNER: PLAYBOY, ACTIVIST AND REBEL: This is a very entertaining trip back in time. I just have trouble accepting its entire message. Sure Playboy Magazine helped break down America's rigid ideas about sex, in what Bill Maher terms "the war between Puritan and Libertarian strains" of thought. But Pat Boone also has a point talking about its "breaking of the moral compass" with its philosophy "if it feels good, do it." He's not cool, though, and neither is a feminist carping about the objectivization of women. People like  Gene Simmons, David Steinberg, Jenny McCarthy and George Lucas, carry much more weight in this film. And most of all, there's Hugh Hefner himself, leafing through his scrapbooks and recounting a self-serving history.

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