MRR Movie Review: $ellebrity

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A 2012 documentary film from renown celebrity photographer Kevin Mazur, who seeks to explore how fame has changed from the highly-structured studio system to the current free-for-all paparazzi frenzy that exists today. Features candid interviews with stars like Jennifer Aniston, Elton John, Jennifer Lopez, Salma Hayek, Kid Rock & Sarah Jessica Parker.
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MRR Movie Review: $ellebrity

-- Rating: NR
Length: 89 minutes
Release Date: January 11, 2013
Directed by: Kevin Mazur
Genre: Documentary

"$ellebrity" dives headfirst into the world of celebrity fame and photography. Detailing the intricate relationship between celebrities and their trailing paparazzi, the documentary is a fascinating tale that covers the evolution of the paparazzi and celebrities' need for media attention. Dropping names like Napoleon and Lindsay Lohan, the film takes a hard look at how fame and society's view of it have changed dramatically over the years.

With interviews with some of today's top celebrities, "$ellebrity" tells the real deal of what is going on with the paparazzi. This documentary offers real accounts of photographers harassing stars with combative words and aggressive actions. Viewers are assaulted with flashing bulbs and frantic scenes of photographers chasing celebrities. These are sights that celebrities endure on a day-to-day basis.

While it seems like it may be out to bash the paparazzi, the reason behind "$ellebrity" is far from that. The film puts careful blame for the out-of-control paparazzi on society's demand for the inside scoop and the high consumption of tabloid gossip. Rather than blaming the photographers for meeting that demand, the movie explains how they merely fill a critical role in America's obsession with the rich and famous.

Insightful and smart, "$ellebrity" does a great job of informing the audience of the ins and outs of celebrity photography. It sails beyond pop culture documentaries that merely try to entertain and leaves viewers with a few bits of knowledge to reflect on later. Director Kyle Mazur is a veteran of the celebrity world and clearly shares his wealth of insider information with his audience.

The subject of fame receives careful attention, explaining in detail exactly what makes a person famous. Several famous figures from over the years have their fame dissected in this film, with talent and worthiness called into question in each case. It becomes blatantly obvious that a person can more easily become famous now than ever before, as talent and beauty are no longer the only components that make a person into a star.

A major strength of "$ellebrity" is how it easily connects to the lives of its audience members. In an interesting turn of events, the film flips the script on the audience and shows them how their actions and interests have created the monster of tabloid media. The documentary allows viewers to understand their role in the frenzy for exclusive images of celebrities, driving paparazzi to push into celebrities' private lives more and more for candid money-making shots. Whether purchasing gossip magazines or checking a favorite celebrity's blog, viewers are made fully aware of their responsibility in this matter.

"$ellebrity" is bound to be a hit with anyone interested in pop culture, as it's packed with interviews with celebrities like Elton John and Jennifer Aniston. The interviews are refreshing, with popular celebrities giving real, honest accounts of their experiences, rather than the carefully constructed responses of formal interviews. Stars explain their genuine frustrations with the paparazzi, something that fans will sympathize with. From Marc Anthony and Jennifer Lopez reliving their inability to throw a private wedding to Sarah Jessica Parker explaining how hectic everyday tasks can be, celebrities detail their struggles with maintaining their lives in the public eye. The stories connect well with the audience and allow viewers to look beyond a celebrity's money to see the downside to fame.

While certainly fascinating, the documentary would have benefited from a bit more control and direction. The film often seems frenzied, which momentarily loses the attention of the audience. With smoother transitions from scene to scene and a touch of careful editing, "$ellebrity" could have a more serious feel than the bouncy, randomized nature it exudes.

A bit more depth would have helped the documentary. While audiences are scolded for feeding the media monster, they are left scratching their heads as to why their burning demand is there in the first place. Exploring this obsession more would have given the film more strength, but it can still hold its own how it stands.

The documentary does a great job of fusing its topics together, creating a solid piece of film that works well with what it has. The content of the film is wisely laid out, easily conveying the message of the film. The heavy themes and broad topic range are easily wrangled together in a fun and flashy story.

"$ellebrity" accomplishes what it set out to do by proving that celebrities are humans and need their own time outside of the watchful public eye. Audiences will be satisfied with a modern documentary that they can relate to. For an entertaining look into the media machine, check out "$ellebrity".

Rated 2 out of 5