Monday, September 8, 2008

A Fashion Icon/Iceberg Gets the Documentary Treatment

Following fashion (as in clothes for men and women), those who create it and others who report on it, for me is a very nearly worthless endeavor. So why -- when I was part of the small minority who found Unzipped, Douglas Keeve's documentary on Isaac Mizrahi, tiresome, overlong and... well, bordering on worthless -- would I waste more of my time on another "fashion" film like LAGERFELD CONFIDENTIAL -- just released to DVD today? Masochist? I hope not.

I'm more interested in Karl Lagerfeld (shown below, en avion) than I ever was in Mizrahi; the former has lasted a hell of lot longer for one thing. Also, I very much enjoyed a 2004 film by the Lagerfeld doc's director, Rodolphe Marconi, entitled The Last Day. What Marconi has come up with regarding Lagerfeld is surely no masterpiece, neither of investigation (despite the promise-of-sleaze title) nor of art. Other than some ravishing shots of Paris and environs, a few gowns, and some very pretty young men (Karl's taste clearly runs to tall, lean and long-haired), the look here is is mostly dull-as-dishwasher documentary.

It's when Marconi gets Lagerfeld to talk about his early life, his parents, and especially his notions of friendship, sex and love, that we see something of the man inside the legend. If what we see is not particularly pleasant, so what? Lagerfeld is a fellow who, it appears, has never wanted for a single material thing in his life, and privilege breeds contempt. Listening to the man explain his method of cutting long-time friends and business associates off at a moment's notice is to hear ice water take that final step into freezing.

So the movie does fascinate in fits and starts. Depending on your interest in the subject, I'd recommend it, and even more so, the writer/director's earlier work "The Last Day," with Gaspard Ulliel and Nicole Garcia. An even earlier film, Defense d'aimer (Love Forbidden) is not so hot: melodrama served up at a snail's pace. However, Dave Kehr in his NY Times review from 2003 found more to enjoy than I, so you might want to watch all three of Marconi's movies, if only to get a sense of his growth.

No comments: