Pixel Perfect

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The trouble with movies is movie stars. They hate their trailers; they hate their scripts; they especially dislike directors like Viktor Taransky (Al Pacino)--once aspiring, now merely woebegone. He yearns to replace his current star, a marvelously hateful Winona Ryder, with a more pliable model. A few keystrokes using a new computer program — click, click, click — and — presto!--he has the perfectly beautiful but only virtually real Simone (a digitally modified Rachel Roberts).

Her skin tone is as perfect as the vacuous line of movie-star chatter Viktor concocts for her. Naturally, she becomes an overnight sensation. It is easy enough in the digital age to insert computer-generated actors into a movie; the problem is inserting them into life. How do you take a pile of pixels on a personal-appearance tour? Or place it on the Today show? Or have it accept an Oscar?

Poor Viktor. He does his best to turn Simone into something Garbo-like, but that's hard to do when the media are in one of their postmodern feeding frenzies. He's soon running around like a fugitive in a three-door farce. Pacino, with his sad, baggy eyes and slightly depressed air, is perfect as the harassed auteur of his own misery. And writer-director Andrew Nicoll is a visually witty operative with a nice ear for the verbal side of Hollywood lunacy as well. Sure, Simone will put you in mind of Wag the Dog, in which the darker political consequences of fooling around with Mother Nature were stressed. But within its own wacky terms, Simone is a funny, smart, improbably successful satire on contemporary celebrity obsessions, the waning summer's most delirious comedy.