A focus on photographers

December 15, 1992|By Stephen Hunter | Stephen Hunter,Film Critic

Taking pictures of celebrities is hard work but nobody has to do it.

That futility is what gives "Blast 'Em," a documentary on New York paparazzi, its sense of complete irony. We are invited to watch people who care so very much about so very little, completely sealed off in a hermetic moral system that values fame and nothing else.

"Blast 'Em" penetrates the seething, semi-violent culture of Weegee's children, the tribe of power-Nikon raiders who swarm at smart spots by focusing on one of them, one Victor Malafronte.

Such a nice young man, Victor. Who'd imagine he'd spend his nights jostling with other social parasites trying to get close enough to irritate heavily guarded young multimillionaires into interesting facial expressions. His quarry of the moment happens to be Michael J. Fox, who refuses "to pose." He insists on trying to live his life modestly, like a regular person, which makes Victor very very angry.

The film, a 16-mm documentary co-directed by Joseph Blasioli and Egidio Coccimiglio, affixes itself to Victor just as he affixes himself to whomever might be worth a $500 shot in Us magazine. Without judging, it slides into his life and shows it to us through his eyes and from the platform of his values.

It's actually very sad. Victor and his fellow barbarians are like leeches who live in a strange blood-bond of love-hate with the people whom they irritate so much. The whole system forms a public circus of titillation off which we all draw some energy; watching poor Fox be hounded by a firing squad of flashing Nikons is significantly amusing in a cruel way, for one presumes that in all other respects, Fox's life is quite pleasant. He and Victor somehow deserve each other; they're a part of the same food chain.

But just as quickly as it starts, it can be over. At some charity ball in New York on a night that stars are out, there's a shot of Charlton Heston, once the biggest of them all, slipping through the crowd, unassaulted by photogs, unilluminated by flashbulbs. Nobody cares, except the N.R.A. Chuck, baby, it's over. Victor says so, that's who.

"Blast 'Em" plays for two days at the Charles.

MOVIE REVIEW

"Blast 'Em"

Documentary

Directed by Joseph Blasioli and Egidio Coccimiglio

Released by Silent Fiction Films

Unrated

***

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