Sunday, November 15, 2009

In fashion. . .

This fall has seen the release of a couple of movies about the fashion industry, from the stylish and historical Coco Avant Chanel to The September Issue, a documentary about Vogue's largest issue, which is fascinating not so much for what we don't learn about Anna Wintour, as an inside look into some of the tough and quick decisions that take place while putting together the magazine (you'll also feel better knowing that even movie stars have really bad hair days).

But for something completely different, creative and powerful, check out Sally Potter's new film, Rage, now out on DVD. I've been a huge fan of hers ever since she adapted Virginia Woolf's Orlando, and I can also highly recommend her movie Yes - an unusual contemporary love story starring Joan Allen, in which all the characters speak in rhyming couplets. Potter just doesn't make films like anyone else and Rage is no exception. The movie is a series of documentary style "interviews" with various characters all involved with one particular fashion designer preparing to put on his big show. There's everyone from the designer himself, his models, his financial backer, his bodyguard, a pizza delivery boy recruited suddenly for the runway, and the manager of the factory where the clothes are made. Tragedy suddenly strikes the show (which is never shown on film) and the characters, including a Shakespeare-quoting cop, all react in different ways. The two standout performances are from two of my favourite actors. Judi Dench is excellent as a tough and bitchy fashion critic. There is a moment when she hears and has to react to something terrible happening offstage and the close-up on her face is just terrific.
Then there's Jude Law pictured here, who plays Minx - a narcissist terribly concerned with his/her beauty. The way his character switches from a tough, seductive model playing to the camera - oh, those piercing eyes - to someone feeling very vulnerable and scared is a pretty impressive bit of acting and certainly unlike anything he's done before. I loved it.

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