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Anna Nicole Smith gets the Lifetime movie you did not know she needed

“Anna Nicole,” a biopic of the massive-chested, Playboy-modeling, Guess-jean-selling, Marilyn Monroe-looking, short-lived, drug-addled tabloid fixture, premieres Sunday night on Lifetime. The movie is directed by Mary Harron, who has previously made such films as “American Psycho,” “I Shot Andy Warhol” and “The Notorious Life of Bettie Page,” an unexpectedly polished résumé for someone slumming it in Lifetime movie land. Disappointingly, but perhaps not surprisingly, the lowbrow juju of the Lifetime movie — one of the strongest forces in all of television – triumphs over whatever highbrow aspirations Harron had for the project, if, in fact, she had any. “Anna Nicole” has an extraordinarily hazy point of view, tonally sympathetic to Smith but unwilling to explore any of the details, sloppy but particularizing, that might mitigate and humanize her increasingly terrible behavior. If Anna Nicole Smith was in some way emblematic of our celebrity moment— and she was, a decade before Paris Hilton, famous for being some version of herself — “Anna Nicole” does not make that case: She seems as much an unfortunate joke as ever.

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