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Laramie Movie Scope: S1m0ne

Hollywood insider sci-fi comedy

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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May 9, 2006 -- This low-key comedy about some of the absurdities of the movie business is helped along with some great acting talent and a lot of funny in-jokes about Hollywood. Its premise is based in science fiction, but the art of digital animation depicted in the film is fast becoming a reality.

Al Pacino (“Insomnia”) plays a Hollywood movie director, Viktor Taransky, who is fed up with prima donna movie stars after one of them Nicola Anders (played by Winona Ryder of “Reality Bites”) ruins his latest film by quitting, then suing the studio, forbidding the release of the film if she appears in it. Taransky is looking for a way to rescue the film, when suddenly, a solution becomes available. A computer genius gives him a computer program that enables Taransky to replace Anders' image with that of a computer-generated image, one so life-like that people mistake the image for a real actress. Taransky calls this computer actress Simone (played by Rachel Roberts) after the name of the program, S1mulation 0ne.

Taransky's film is released and it, and Simone, become a sensation. The fact that Simone does not show up to promote her film makes her even more of a sensation. The press is consumed by the mystery of Simone and tries to find out what it can about a movie star who never appears in public. The hounds of the press follow Taransky everywhere. He keeps the studio locked and he spreads clues around to make it appear as if Simone is real. Everyone buys into the fantasy of Simone. She even wins an Oscar. Taransky is overshadowed by his own creation and becomes resentful of it. He decides to do away with Simone, and in a bizarre twist of fate, is arrested for her murder.

None of this could happen, of course, except in Hollywood, a place where hype, spin and image are more important than reality (well, O.K., Washington too). Part of the joke of Simone is that even after Taransky admits the truth about Simone, most people in Hollywood can't handle the truth. They would rather believe the fantasy. In the end, Taransky must learn to share the spotlight with Simone even though his ego wants all the credit for his creation. While the screenplay is clever, most of the power of this film comes from its stars, Pacino, Evan Rachel Wood, who plays Taransky's daughter, Lainey Christian, and Catherine Keener of “Capote,” who plays Taransky's ex-wife, Elaine Christian, along with a strong supporting cast. This is a pretty lightweight comedy, but an enjoyable one. It rates a C+.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in video and/or DVD format, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2006 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)