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Heidi Fleiss: Hollywood Madam

Unflappable pop anthropologist Nick Broomfield peels another slimy layer off the skin of American celebrity culture with this engaging, revealing documentary about the leader of Hollywood's biggest high-class prostitute ring following her publicized arrest for pandering in the early 1990s. With his ingratiating British charm, Broomfield ably coaxes provocative admissions from the three key players in Fleiss' arrest — retired, decrepit old-school pro Madam Alex, smug sleazeball producer Ivan Nagy, and finally Fleiss herself as she counts down the days before her incarceration. What Broomfield discovers, in his inimitably entertaining way, is that in Hollywood even the criminals are guilty of overactive self-promotion, often to their own detriment. Alex, Nagy, and Fleiss bite each other's backs and spin each other's stories with skill and ease, all the while in self-denial about the destructive, symbiotic organism they belong to. Broomfield's best documentaries, including Kurt and Courtney and Aileen Wournos: The Selling of a Serial Killer, aren't factual investigations, but rather explorations of dishonest relationships in which the truth has ceased to factor, often because it is too ugly for any of the participants to manage. Broomfield's films are presented unpretentiously, simply as a curious reporter feeling his way into a story and then letting it fly, and when he hits upon a cast of characters like these, it's a gold mine. Presented in its original 1.33:1 full frame and Dolby Digital 2.0.
—Gregory P. Dorr



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