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CANNES REVIEW: “Stardom,” Denys Arcand’s Dread TV

CANNES REVIEW: "Stardom," Denys Arcand's Dread TV

CANNES REVIEW: "Stardom," Denys Arcand's Dread TV

Mark Peranson

(indieWIRE/5.22.2000) — The shallowness of celebrity. The way powerful
politicians get weak at the knees at the sight of a
beautiful, very young girl, and our attraction to
television. We’ve heard this all before, from Princess
Di to President Bill, and they are the main issues
brought to the table by the first-ever Canadian film
to close the Cannes Film Festival, Denys Arcand‘s
Stardom.” Following the rise and fall of
Canadian-born model Tina Menzhal (newcomer Jessica
, whose own rise from nobody to major motion
picture star sounds eerily familiar), “Stardom” is
ultimately a slight film from a talented filmmaker.
But what is more apt to close the Cannes festival,
where intellectualizing about the latest Taiwanese
masterwork takes place a breath away from promotional
campaigns for the next episode in the Toxic Avenger
series? And I won’t even get into the excessive
billboard presence of Jean ClaudeVan Damme.

I bring up Mr. Van Damme because he’s the type of
celebrity whose life “Stardom” distills into a neat,
exceedingly superficial package of promotional clips.
An Entertainment Tonight segment about the production
on his latest film. An appearance at a club opening.
Oh, and a little scandal involving abuse. All of this,
however, is eagerly spinned a certain way by the
media, who have invested far too much in the existence
of someone like a Van Damme; to strike him down would
mean calling the whole system into question. (And I’m
not just talking about television).

“Stardom”‘s somewhat silly subject matter would make
it a dubious closer if not for the conceit (or
gimmick, depending on your point of view) of the
channel-surfing-like structure: Outside of the first
and last scenes, we see Tina’s maturation from hockey
star to fashion queen only through the camera eye,
from appearances on Jerry Springer-like TV trash talk
shows to Fashion TV segments. Skipping from clip to
clip like a bored viewer who is impelled to search out
the newest dirt, Arcand compacts a whirlwind of
activity into brief moments. We see Tina change as she
becomes a television presence and a known commodity

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