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Simone
DVD disk
Oct 8, 2004 By: The Shootin Surgeon
Simone order
Director:
Andrew Niccol

Actors:
Al Pacino
Catherine Keener
Rachel Roberts

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Director Viktor Taranski (Pacino) comes under fire when his bitchy starlet (played by noted felon Winona Ryder) walks off the set and leaves him to hang. Desperate, he secretly finds salvation in the form of a computer program able to recreate a digital human actor. When his film takes off, his pixelized superstar, Simone, is hailed as an icon and begins to slowly take over his own life.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
My viewing of S1MěNE probably won't make it into my memoirs, but it remained a pretty entertaining way to spend a couple of hours. You can't really go wrong with Pacino, although he does admittedly overact here and there. Even so, when he manages to keep his feet on the ground as he did, he does resonate the character, and not just a caricature. His portrayal of a director torn between Hollywood and art is actually pretty touching as is the desperate state he finds himself once his creation begins to overshadow his own life. Simone herself is played by Canadian model and super-hottie Rachel Roberts, whose magazine model looks and giant smile, as well as some decent skills as an actress, make her perfect for the part of the unattainable, unbelievable superstar. Another cutie, Catherine Keener, tags along as Taranski's ex-wife and head of the studio producing his artsy-fartsy films and the most comical parts came courtesy of Pruitt Taylor Vince and Jason Schwartzman as a pair of bumbling paparazzo out for some pics of the elusive Simone.

The movie also had a pretty sleek look to it, although there's a somewhat excessive use of color filters as every scene seemed to be overly colorized, as if New Line had made some sort of promotional deal with the Acme Colored Cellophane Company. The sets are pretty nice, especially Taranski's sweet beach house, and the CGI effects used to create some shots of Simone and enhance others, were damn convincing to say the least. Overall, the film offered a great distraction from my dreary cubicle life and whether it should be credited for me spending a couple of hours sprawled out in full comfort and enjoyment or if that should be attributed to my new chair and "forced diet" remains to be seen. Either way, this is a film that I would be happy to recommend to someone in for some light, yet intelligent, fare.
THE EXTRAS
A few decent, yet brief, offerings show up on this DVD starting with "Cyber Stardom", an eight-minute long collection of views from various cast & crew members about the potential eventual replacement of flesh and blood actors by CGI creations for future projects. We can only pray to God that it never happens... Next up is "Simulating S1MěNE", a seven-minute explanation of the various methods used to create Simone and to enhance the actress who played her in order to make her look a bit "faker". Good for all the tech-heads who dig this stuff: not my bag at all.

A set of 10 deleted or alternate scenes is also there and makes up a meatier side-dish for those who don't dig the two other featurettes. Some of them are pretty good, but overall I didn't see one that really added to the story. Pretty average, but I love deleted scenes so I watched them all. They have no commentary but you have the option of watching the movie and branching off at the spots where they would have appeared.

The theatrical trailer and a particularly cool teaser trailer are also on there.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
Nothing to really blow you away, but this film hit a soft spot with me and I really enjoyed it. I would rate it a strong rental but I wouldn't send you letters of derision were I to hear you'd bought it, so put it near the top of your list for your next video store trip and if you like it, it may be worth buying.
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