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Case Number 27640: Small Claims Court

Buy $ellebrity at Amazon


Cinedigm // 2012 // 90 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Brett Cullum // August 13th, 2014

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All Rise...

Judge Brett Cullum likes to hear J Lo complain about her lack of privacy. Puh-lease!

The Charge

"I'm your biggest fan
I'll follow you until you love me
Papa-Paparazzi"—Lady Gaga

The Case

$ellebrity is a documentary that concentrates on paparazzi, and how they affect Hollywood and its major players. It points the finger at sleazy picture poppers who try to find and exploit the elite of Hollywood for their own gain. It is actually a good-natured look at the profession, but does have criticisms lobbed at the techniques of the current crop of guerilla photographers from stars such as Friends alum Jennifer Anniston and Latin pop diva Jennifer Lopez. The whole thing is directed by Kevin Mazur who is a guy who has stake in the movie business, so he treads lighter than he should on the studios and the stars who create and use the paparazzi to sell their products. He has too much to lose in this proposition if the view goes hardcore and shows us the ugly truths around the profession—like how often the stars and studios themselves tip off the photographers to get more publicity. So all the while we are hearing these celebrities whine about their privacy being invaded we wonder how many paps they have on speed dial for when they need a boost in their popularity.

The film was shot in 2012, and it has that date stamp all over it now. Jennifer Lopez was married to Marc Anthony, and they appear in the film with each other talking about how their small private secret wedding in the backyard was ruined by helicopters and cameras. Of course the pair did this in their Los Angeles mansion when a wiser choice would have been to go somewhere paparazzi are not living or have no resources. Of course they are divorced now, so it is odd to see them so happy with each other on a couch talking about their everlasting love despite cameras nosing in their affairs. Also offering their talking head view of things are Sheryl Crow, Elton John, Salma Hayek, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kid Rock, and Rosanna Arquette. They all go on about how difficult life is under the constant glare of flash bulbs and people with camera phones. As a contrast the film shows the origins of this profession, and offers what it was like for studio stars of the '50s and '60s who lived in a very different era where publicity was controlled by their Hollywood press agents. TMZ and tabloids gave way to a less controllable beast, but as in any journalism they report what they see and what readers want to consume.

This is a light package from Cinedigm that doesn't give us much in supplemental material. The DVD offers the feature film in a crisp nice transfer that has no digital artifacts or compression issues. Colors are natural, although film quality varies in the way documentaries usually do. Some source material was shot on the fly and not in controlled environments. The sound mix is full surround, yet seems pretty thin just content to put the dialogue in the front two speakers mostly. There is one sole extra which offers the history of photography. The feature can be seen streaming in many outlets including Amazon, so there's not too much need to buy this DVD outside of having the little featurette on photography and the physical disc.

$ellebrity is a star-studded safe take on stalker photographers who haunt Hollywood. It vilifies the overly aggressive paparazzi while elevating the stars to poor picked on martyrs who are just trying to live "normal" lives. If you like your documentaries safe and straight-forward, it's all interesting enough to satisfy. But if you have a critical mind, and can see the loophoples and contradictions here the film might make you crazy. It does have a nice detailed history of how we got here, but it doesn't offer much insight into the reality of the situation. It's fluffy and feels like watching an extended segment from Entertainment Tonight.

The Verdict

Guilty of being light, fluffy, and just a little too star struck to show the gritty truth of life under the glare of the camera lens.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 75

Perp Profile

Studio: Cinedigm
Video Formats:
• 1.85:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• English
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Release Year: 2012
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Documentary

Distinguishing Marks

• Featurette


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