Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Ari Seth Cohen & Lina Plioplyte's ADVANCED STYLE offers the aged looking good -- if you're a fan of clownish costuming, that is...

In these cultural times of rule-by-youth (every other kind of rule is by wealth, power and Supreme Court fiat), who wouldn't welcome the opportunity to see "fashion" from another angle? The angle chosen by writer/blogger/ fashionista Ari Seth Cohen, who co-wrote this film (based upon his writing and blogging), along with its director Lina Plioplyte, is the celebration of the older female segment of our population who are, in their own way, keeping up with fashion and still looking good in their 60s, 70, 80s and -- yes, even into their 90s.

ADVANCED STYLE, the 72-minute movie made by this first-time-filmmaking pair, concentrates on a number of older women who have dedicated their remaining years to looking good, with major focus on maybe half a dozen of these. Plioplyte, shown at right, and Cohen (below) move back and forth amongst the women, letting us into their lives piecemeal, some more than others. We see them at home, negotiating the city and/or park, and spending time with their loved ones (those who still have
any left), occasionally at work (one or two of them seem to own a boutique). One svelte number (below) hangs out at Harlem's Apollo Theater, where she used to dance, and where in front of the wall/mural of photos of famous performers who have also played the Apollo, she tels us that she is now legally blind so can no longer see the faces of these people. Another oldster, hanging out in on Cape Cod, introduces us to her friend, who is having heavy-duty memory problems.

Given the ravages of old age, it's not surprising that these women might turn to fashion for relief and respite, but one does question Mr. Cohen's taste in offering up as "fashion" clothes that often look more like clown costumes than anything fashionable.

(One woman even tells us that, regarding her first date with the man with whom she's now lives, he later told her that she looked like a clown.)

Super-bright colors, odd shapes and heavy-duty make-up highlight many of these ladies. Only one of them (shown below) seems to have a penchant for darker colors, together with a classier, retiring personality.

We spend some time with this woman and her grand-daughter who, no surprise, is also interested in fashion. But then, when the group makes a trip from New York City to Hollywood to appear on Ricki Lake's TV show, even this lady manages to go a little bizarre when given the chance to "perform." Whew-- what happened to all that "class"?

A couple of our gals are indeed chosen to be part of a Lanvin campaign celebrating fashion and aging (at least I think there were two of them, although the lady in red above seems to want to keep it all to herself).

Well, that's life. And age. And fashion. I suppose. Advanced Style, given its short length, is over just around the time it begins to outstay its welcome. But one wonders: Yes, these women are certainly sweet and undoubtedly old. But are they really the best examples of fashion that Mr. Cohen could find?

The movie opens  this Friday, September 26, here in New York City at the Quad Cinema. Next week it hits Miami, and then another half-dozen cities on October 10. Come October 17, it opens at the Laemmle's Music Hall 3 in Beverly Hills. For a complete listing of screening venues and playdates, click here.

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