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Film Review

By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat

 

Lisa Picard Is Famous
Directed by Griffin Dunne
First Look Pictures 08/01 DVD/VHS Feature Film
Not Rated

"Where to?" a cab driver in Paris is said to have asked Herbert von Karajan. "It doesn't matter," the famous conductor is said to have replied, "They want me everywhere." Fame is a distortion of the natural instinct for validation and attention. But it can easily go awry and bring much disappointment and pain into the lives of those who seek it like a holy grail.

This clever "mocumentary" directed by Griffin Dunne hits the bull's eye with its portrait of the ludicrous and energy-depleting lengths actors and actresses will go to achieve celebrity status in New York City.

Lisa Picard (Laura Kirk) is the subject of a documentary being made by Andrew (Griffin Dunne). She's already made a cereal commercial that has generated buzz, set up a website, and has landed a "small but crucial" role in an upcoming TV movie starring Melissa Gilbert.

One of the anchors in Lisa's life, besides her adoring boyfriend, is Tate (Nat DeWolf), another actor hungry for success and recognition. Although he's blown a background shot on a television soap opera, he has high hopes for his own one-man show recounting his encounters with homophobia.

The witty screenplay for this mocumentary by Laura Kirk and Nat DeWolf captures the countless tiny moments of trying to get noticed in the Big Apple where actors and actresses compete for every television ad, soap opera, sit com, movie, or play. The kicker comes when Tate's poorly written one-man show is optioned by Spike Lee and Charlie Sheen who turn the character into a heterosexual who falls in love. This surprising development puts a permanent dent in the friendship between Lisa and Tate.

Griffin Dunne makes good use of onscreen celebrity interviews on the topic of fame. Among those offering their observations on its emptiness and etherealness are Carrie Fisher, Penelope Ann Miller, and Kit Carson. Perhaps the most poignant observation is made by screenplay writer Buck Henry: "Fame has the same root as famished. . . . It's all about hunger, isn't it?"

 

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by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
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