Hello Film Lovers!

September is a wonderfully varied month. It brings the end-of-summer launch of a new season of arts and cultural events and marks the celebration of the Jewish High Holy Days. While we look forward to the 2024 Donald M. Ephraim Sun & Stars International Film Festival presented by MorseLife next Spring, this month we check out several films that entertainingly treat the phenomenon of celebrity.

Celebrity achieved through talent, noteworthy actions, or merely self-generated hype on social media has become one of the distinguishing characteristics of our age. Unsurprisingly, international filmmakers have targeted this trend for satirical treatment. Art, fame, and comedy collide in four films with unique takes on the subject, and all are available on the indicated home streaming platforms.

The Square

In 2017, the Cannes International Film Festival bestowed its highest honor, the Palme d’Or, on Swedish director Ruben Östlund for the satire THE SQUARE, set in the notoriety-seeking world of avant-garde art. Östlund deftly portrays the haughty pretensions of a scandal-ridden curator who courts fame through shock-based art. The chronicle of his hero’s rise and fall is studded with some deliberately transgressive in-your-face humor as the director dares his audience to laugh at his outrageous jabs at many a sacred cow.


I joined 2,000 other international press members in the Grand Theatre Lumiere in the Cannes Festival Palais when THE SQUARE was press screened a few hours before its official red-carpet world premiere. Here is an excerpt from my report for RogerEbert.com:

“All was calm in the Palais for the press premiere of the second competition film of the day, THE SQUARE… It’s a wicked and sometimes hilarious satire on the world of contemporary art and museums, raising questions concerning personal responsibility and humanity, treating them as comic fodder.”

“Christian (Claes Bang, a dead-ringer for a 40-something Gregory Peck) is chief curator for the ultra-hip, ultra-chic X-Royal Museum of avant-garde art. He’s handsome, pretentious, and arrogant in the privilege and power that make him the peer of the wealthy. In addition to calling up a few art-world clichés, Östlund creates some very accurate parodies of the art, artists, and lectures that might be found in a museum devoted to the kind of conceptual art that might leave the man on the street clueless.”

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Triangle of Sadness


In a surprise win, Östlund was awarded a rare second Palme d’Or at Cannes in 2022 with the rippingly funny TRIANGLE OF SADNESS. The film revels in some lowdown guilty-pleasure fun at the expense of his characters: the hapless passengers on a pricey luxury cruise that goes awry when its captain (Woody Harrelson) is derelict in his duty. In quest of social media fame, a self-absorbed Internet influencer, given the cruise for promotional purposes, cavorts with her male-model boyfriend as they hobnob with their well-heeled fellow passengers. It’s not long before Östlund’s unconventional no-holds-barred humor provides a takedown for the rich, mighty, and wannabe-famous alike at a destination not found on any itinerary.

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The Capote Tapes


No one could dish on the inside moves of the rich and famous quite like celebrity author extraordinaire Truman Capote (Breakfast at Tiffany’s, In Cold Blood). A sensation in its world premiere at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival, the documentary THE CAPOTE TAPES includes a trove of previously unheard interviews with the brilliantly snarky Capote, as well as documentary footage covering the flamboyant Studio 54 era of the author’s New York social life and his legendary masked Black & White Ball. The film has its tragic aspect in charting Capote’s disastrous move to write a book betraying the most intimate secrets of his “swans,” the glamorous high-society women who formed his circle of closest friends.

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The closing night film of the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival was the drama DALILAND, starring Ben Kingsley in a spot-on characterization as surrealist artist Salvador Dali. This is yet another look at the price of fame and the machinations required to maintain it. Exploitation is the flip side of phenomenal pop-culture name recognition in a fictional tale in which a young New York gallery assistant becomes caught up in the eccentric personal lives of the aging world-famous Dali and his domineering and flagrantly unfaithful wife Gala (a terrific performance by German actor Barbara Sukowa). Variety critic Owen Gleiberman wrote,” It’s both a highly entertaining movie and, by the end, a haunting one. It revels in Dali’s artifice even as it mercilessly peels away his layers.”

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For a complete change of pace, celebrate Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, with FIDDLER’S JOURNEY TO THE BIG SCREEN, narrated by Jeff Goldblum. This film was received with overwhelming enthusiasm at a host of international and Jewish film festivals and termed by Gary Goldstein of the Los Angeles Times “as wondrous, buoyant and heartwarming as the film it celebrates.” This beautifully engaging documentary dissects the creative collaborations that made FIDDLER ON THE ROOF “the most powerful movie musical ever made,” according to The New Yorker critic Pauline Kael. Go behind the scenes with FIDDLER magic again, or see it for the first time on Amazon Prime.

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Think film, and think Sun & Stars,

Barbara Scharres Signature