Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
The current era of tabloid photography owes a lot to the career of Ron Galella, a photog for whom no potted plant was too small from which to get the shot of any celebrity he was in pursuit of. His life and career are covered by a bemused by Leon Gast in this sincere documentary, giving a fair shake to those who disliked Galella but clearly not taking their side. Galella’s particular obsession with Jackie O is treated like a religious calling, while the many shots taken throughout his career reveal a great talent for catching what Andy Warhol would refer to as famous people doing normal things. The reason why Gast doesn’t come down too hard on the man, though, is that aside from a likable personality and an ability to not take anything too personally (he had his jaw busted by Marlon Brando and yet doesn’t condemn him harshly enough for it), he clearly sees the hypocrisy of celebrities who loathe the paparazzi but need them to sow the seeds of the fame that keep their careers afloat. Gallela’s work shows that many of our most celebrated figures really are more charismatic than the rest of us even when doing such banal things as dancing at clubs or crossing the street, and examples of his pictures show a particular talent for capturing this. Stylishly assembled and highly entertaining.