“It’s easier to convince
100,000 people, than just one”
One of the
biggest musical surprises, not to mention one of my favorite
songs, of last year was the song Clint Eastwood by a band called
the Gorillaz. The
song itself was an anthem of sorts about someone finding
themselves and realizing their worth and potential as a person.
The song was soulful, funky and catchy with a hook for a
chorus and a snappy drumbeat that won over critics and had them
asking “Who are the Gorillaz”.
Adding to the mix was a unique music video done with all
anime representations of the band members.
So just who were they? Well, the Gorillaz, as fleshy group,
do not exist. They
are the brainchild of a couple of music producers and musicians
(most notably Del the Funky Homosapien) In Simone, Andrew Niccol
takes this premise one step further and to the side.
He has created a film and a star that makes a deep social
commentary on how quickly and easily that the public will latch
onto the “next big thing”. Held together by yet another amazing performance by the real
Al Pacino, Simone will have you taking a second look at those
idols that you worship, and the way you do.
“Our ability to create fraud
has far surpassed our ability to detect it”
is a director in the twilight of his career.
Struggling to hold onto his self-respect, his craft, his
marriage and his senses. After being told that he is being released from his studio,
Victor encounters a crazed man who provides him with just what he
needs to survive. Victor
is given new life through Simone, an actress that exists only on a
computer screen, but thanks to modern technology, gives all
appearances of actually existing.
From here, the story stumbles through some expected
situations, near-misses and such, until it hits stride briefly
again and then falls once again in conclusion.
In the current state of things, a virtual movie star would not be
unheard of, nor difficult to imagine. Everything that the
film does is possible and the reactions are reflective of a
society ready to grab onto the next big thing and ride it
out. The script is rife with sharp one-liners about
idol worship and the expeditious nature that celebrities can rise
and fall. It appears
that he came up with these first, then built a script and story
around them. This
shows through in some transition scenes that lag and a sense of
desperation at times, to get from one insightful thought to the
next. The film is
still enjoyable, but maybe the impact and depth of the message
gets lost or diluted a bit in trying to get all the storylines to
work out. I must
admit though that he did kind of get me with the conclusion
Pacino would be
fun to watch if he was hawking laundry detergent or breath mints.
His haggard look offsetting the manic nature that is going
on inside him is in wonderous form here once again, as he
struggles to keep his secret and his sanity.
I’m sure after the intense, emotional performance in
Insomnia, Pacino needed a break and Simone is definitely it.
The remainder of the cast is fairly faceless, despite the
presence of big name stars. Keener softens his cold-hearted bitch mode just a tad but is
a decent contrast, while Evan Rachel Wood as his daughter does
bring a ray of sunshine to things.
Vince and Koteas are representative of what does not work
in the film, since they seemingly blend into the background of a
movie that has deep messages wrapped in a vainly shallow package.
Simone is an entertaining, occasionally thought provoking slice
critique of just how quickly and easily people will grab hold of
something and how it can in turn take control of them.
Niccol has always shown a knack for making us question what
is real and what isn’t (the best example is of course The Truman
Show) and Simone is no different. Granted, Simone does not come near the impact or fluid nature
of Truman, but it touches on some of the same issues. Do we really become so enamored over something or someone,
that are willing to suspend reality and believe the seemingly
about it, how often have we justified actions or quirks, because
of an emotional attachment or bond of some sort.
In personal relationships as well as in our admiration of
heroes, we can be so forgiving of eccentricities that we may even
become blind or doubtful of the truth when it is presented to us,
whatever form it may take. With
Simone, Niccol has shown why he may be one of the sharpest
observers of the human condition, and the effects that questioning
reality can have. While
it is far from perfect, as most people are, it is adequate and
admirable in its efforts and intentions.
And no, I’m not going to tell you if Simone is indeed
real or an actual computer generation, because I wouldn’t want
to feed any rumours or speculation.
Just see it for yourself, think for yourself, and make your
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