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While the premise might seem cutting edge, certain aspects of S1MØNE ($27) prove to be a bit too predictable and familiar. Still, I found this satire of the film industry to be rather amusing and quite likable, despite some more obvious plot turns. S1MØNE stars Al Pacino as Hollywood director Viktor Taransky, who finds himself dismissed from the studio run by his ex-wife Elaine (Catherine Keener), after temperamental star, Nicola Anders (Winona Ryder), storms off the set of his latest picture. Determined to fulfill his artistic vision, Victor hocks everything he owns to buy back the unfinished film from the studio, so he can complete it with another actress. Unfortunately, due to the debacle with Nicola, there isn’t a single actress in Hollywood (famous or not) willing to work with Victor.

However, faster than you can say Deus ex Machina, a solution to Victor’s problem is literally dropped in his lap. Victor finds himself the beneficiary of some brand new CGI software developed be a recently deceased computer programmer. The software- Simulation One or Simone, turns out to be a synthetic, completely computer generated thespian that will allow Victor to complete his film without the unpleasant necessities of having to cater to the overblown ego of a flesh and blood actress. Under Victor’s careful control, Simone (Rachel Roberts), gives a "virtually" perfect performance that not only save his film, but also makes her the biggest sensation in Hollywood. Simone’s unexpected popularity proves to be both a blessing and a curse for Victor, who finds his Hollywood clout restored, but at the cost of having to devote every waking moment to maintaining the illusion that his "discovery" is a real person. The cast of S1MØNE also features Evan Rachel Wood, Jay Mohr, Jason Schwartzman, Pruitt Taylor Vince and Daniel von Bargen.

New Line Home Entertainment has made S1MØNE available on DVD in 2.35:1 wide screen presentation that features the anamorphic enhancement for 16:9 displays. This being a New Line DVD, it should come as no surprise that S1MØNE looks great. The image is wonderfully crisp and provides a truly excellent level of detail. Colors are generally vibrant and inviting, but there are moments when the cinematography becomes a bit artsy and the hues become slightly skewed. Flesh tones are very appealing, although not always wholly natural. There are no problems with chroma noise or smearing during the presentation. Blacks are pure and velvety, whites are crisp and contrast is smooth, except for the more artful moments. Shadow detail is excellent and the image produces a nice three-dimensional quality. The smartly authored DVD doesn’t betray any signs of digital compression artifacts.

Although much of the film is dialogue driven, S1MØNE comes with very nice Dolby Digital EX 5.1 and DTS ES 6.1 soundtracks. Surround usage is very effective during key moments of the film, but at other times the sound mix tends to favor the forward soundstage. Dialogue is very cleanly rendered, with excellent intelligibility and the actors' voices have a warm, natural timbre. Incidental music and Carter Burwell's engaging score are reproduced with excellent musical fidelity. The bass channel is solid, deep and never exaggerated; although by the nature of the material, it doesn't get too much play. The differences between Dolby Digital and DTS aren't extensive, but DTS does come out on top with a warmer, more enveloping and precise sound. In addition to the two digital soundtracks, English subtitles are also provided on the DVD.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the DVD’s interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a few supplements. Starting things off are two featurettes, Cyber Stardom and Simulating Simone. Cyber Stardom is a seven-plus minute program that explores the concept and possibility of computer generated actors. Simulating Simone is a six-plus minute look at how the filmmakers created their "computer generated" star. Nineteen deleted/extended scenes are also provided on the DVD. The scenes can be viewed individually, or within the context of the movie, with a special interactive version of S1MØNE that flashes an onscreen icon during the course of the movie, thus requiring the viewer to use their remote control to view the additional material at the appropriate times. A theatrical trailer and theatrical teaser close out the video supplements. S1MØNE is also DVD-ROM enabled, with screenplay and a "Real Simone" website that is an effective parody of a genuine movie star site.

S1MØNE is an amusing satire that skewers certain aspects and personalities of the motion picture industry. There is a certain level of predictability in the movie, but I found it enjoyable nonetheless. New Line's DVD looks and sound great (no surprise there), which makes the movie more than worth checking out.



Simone (2002)


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2003 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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