Thursday, September 21, 2017

The "twatification" of fashion reaches its apotheosis in Michael Roberts' doc, MANOLO: THE BOY WHO MADE SHOES FOR LIZARDS

Yes, "twatification," and though I can't be certain I've coined the word, do feel free to use it if you like. It certainly fits MANOLO: THE BOY WHO MADE SHOES FOR LIZARDS, the new documentary about to hit South Florida (after opening in NYC and L.A. last week). Entitlement oozes from every pore of this diabetic confection, as it also seems to from the film's subject: the gosh-he's-got-an-ego-the-size-of-Texas footwear designer, Manolo Blahnik. In this bizarre and way-too-lengthy film (there's content here for about 30 minutes, yet the movie trails on for 90), we get a little Blahnik history, a look back at those notorious 1960s and 70s, and a view of many of the pretty, colorful shoe designs with which this guy has gifted us.

As director, first-timer Michael Roberts, shown at left, regales us with talking heads of celebrity and fashion -- from Anna Wintour (sans sunglasses!) to Rupert Everett to Rihanna (below, right) --  who drone on and on about the wonders of Mr. Blahnik and his creations. A little of this goes a very long way. My spouse, who has a much higher tolerance for fashion's idiocy than does TrustMovies himself, found the film initially fun, but by its end was rolling his eyes and twitching in annoyance. To quote him: "This could be a recruiting film for ISIS in how it shows our culture."

From the beginning Blahnik (shown above, left) comes across as something of an effete snob, and though he has little of intelligence to tell us, he at least does so with energy and spirit. But Mr. Roberts' contributions to the film are particularly misguided and obtuse. While some archival footage and photos are used (as below), the filmmaker prefers to give us staged recreations of childhood and young adulthood that range from so-so to simply silly, seeming to be on view so that we can see how "creative" this director can be.

The nadir is reached during a pointless episode in which Roberts creates a tacky, technicolor and completely unnecessary update of the Dietrich/von Sternberg Blond Venus (shown below: Is this the filmmaker's audition to direct a remake, perhaps?).

Along the way we get quite a bit of Bianca Jagger, a look at the footwear the guy designed for Sofia Coppola's Marie Antionette, and a section in which Blahnik and John Galliano reminisce. I must admit that the movie is rather lovely, sometimes quite beautiful, to look at (those shoes set against various nature/floral scenes), though the most fun visually has to be the delectable petits fours shown us at one point, the top of which offers up the image of a Manolo shoe on the frosting.

And although the shoemaker's love/sex life is alluded to and then put aside (one would guess he is gay, but, well, maybe not), we do learn something of the importance of Blahnik's relationships with three women, the late Misses Isabella Blow, Anna Piaggi and Tina Chow

Mostly, though, it's just Wintour (above), as well as others, wagging on about Blahnik's brilliance in a movie so filled with self-love and ego-boosting by others that I am surprised the filmmaker, his cast and crew could view the finished product without feeling noticeable embarrassment.
From Music Box Films, Manolo: The Boy Who Made Shoes for Lizards opens this Friday, Sept. 22 in Miami at the O Cinema Wynwood and in Ft. Lauderdale at the Savor Cinema, and next Friday, Sept. 29 at the Living Room Theaters here in Boca Raton. To find venues elsewhere around the country, click here and then click on THEATERS in the task bar midway down your screen.

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