Pret a Porter (1994) Other movies recommended for you
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Plot: A fashion show in Paris draws the usual bunch of people; designers, reporters, models, magazine editors, photographers. Lots of unconnected stories which all revolve around this show, and an all-star cast. Runtime: 133 mins Release Date: 24 Dec 1994
It was truly exciting to see `Ready to Wear' in the theaters when it first came out. Seldom do films delight and amuse us at this level. But this is like a Woody Allen film: either you love it or hate it. Since the story is too complicated to explain and the best thing about this film , I'm sticking to mostly non-plot aspects in this review.One of the challenges in your first viewing will be this film's utter lack of exposition. You will be asked to board this train while it is moving; in fact, you will need to leap from track to track. The story is not unfolded as much as it is <more>
thrown at you in pieces. Two minutes after you are tossed into a conversation already in progress , you will be asked to join another. Unless you have a mind as competitively poised as a super-model, you'll miss much of the movie the first time.Don't let the immersion in the world of fashion fool you into thinking this is a movie `about' fashion. Fashion is merely a backdrop, a setting for Altman to play his scenes. That he so thoroughly masters his subject is merely a tribute to his intelligence and sophistication.Like Milos Forman in `The Firemen's Ball,' Altman has created a wonderful menagerie of human foibles with which to lampoon us. Our pettiness, our lack of shame, our corruption and our low regard for each other are portrayed so truthfully and cleverly that we don't notice who is the real subject of the satire. We smugly assume it is the fashion world on trial.Even the opening credits were fun - what a collection of personalities all stitched on garment labels !. Every casting decision was a good one; every performance was satisfying. The only thing funnier than Danny Aiello in drag, is watching him being told he looks like Barbra Streisand. And the only thing funnier than that is realizing it's true.While we're trying to figure out a murder, we are also being dazzled by the constellation of world stars of all kinds parading before us. That Altman dared to attempt such a feat the group photo at Versailles alone must have been a challenge is not half as astonishing as that he pulled it off. But the stars, too, are merely a backdrop to funny stories and situations. No one but Altman could make an Elsa Klensch cameo so surprisingly hilarious. The interview about the pouf skirts was just plain funny. But will most of the audience appreciate it? `I doubt it.'Another delight is Altman's pervasive references to clothing, so dominant you will miss half of them. A cab driver, identifying a murderer, tells the police `all white people look alike.' How does he tell them apart? `By their clothes.' Film is confiscated from a fashion shoot, because the murder suspect was inadvertently captured in the background. But his face was cutoff in every shot. `We don't know what he looks like,' the detective complains. `But we know what he was wearing.' Every conversation, every plot, each detail is so thoroughly self-referencing to fashion; but mostly, there are dozens of funny moments. Even the red herring of murder is based on our mistaking an innocent fashion item for an omen of death.
The Fashion Gospel According to Altman (by EdgarST)
Back in 1994, when Robert Altman made "PrÃªt-Ã -porter", he was 70 years old. He was one of the few important auteurs of a profession celebrating its first centennial. Again, the wise filmmaker's satirical approach directed on this opportunity to the fashion world was misunderstood. This time, the maestro pointed his finger to consumerism on a global scale, by covering a convention of the haute couture circle, in which fashion was the vehicle to expose the dehumanised materialism of contemporary world.Starting with a prologue at Dior's in Moscow which could be Rome or <more>
Paris , Altman described a multinational microcosm defined by its unrestrained marketing of material goods. Altman did not underestimate fashion as a key element in our lives: as a matter of fact, he used fashion as the clue to gain access to the film. As expected, "PrÃªt-Ã -porter" was not a paean to designers, models, photographers or fashion magazine editors. After the convention's creator unexpectedly dies, Altman and co-writer Barbara Shulgasser aimed at the surface of the fashion world, searching for its essence, for a trace of humanity, and led us to an unexpected ending, which is a sort of purification, a baring of the bodies and souls. Altman, at 70, knew very well that mankind's main alternative was and is the transparent ethics that radiates from pure spirits committed to preserve life on this planet, beyond fabrics and fashions.To tell the story of this garment catharsis, Altman used as his stylistic technique the superficiality that permeates the milieu he's describing one I know after working in a couple of such events in my youth. Everything is bright and beautiful, but somehow it seems as if "nothing is happening." The audience is denied all the myths that have led many designers and models to haughtiness, so their attitudes become more vacuous, and their incentive to rapacious consumerism is more obvious. Being unable to speak of art or the "fashion essence" in a contemporary setting where commerce rules, Altman used a fragmented narrative, with overlapped dialogues â€“often improvised- as in his other reflections on the crisis of communication, a central theme in "Nashville." Altman is one of the few filmmakers who is able to reunite large casts and create characters of high sociological value mainly in "McCabe & Mrs. Miller", "Nashville", "A Wedding", "Short Cuts" and "Gosford Park", and to a lesser degree in "HealtH" and "The Player" , but he is also averse to psychological realism, that old strategy inherited from the 19th century novel, and that some people still ask for in our post-post-modern world...In this film, Altman relied on famous faces to construct a game of facades with few strokes, choosing among the best of them: those who are able to create a believable character with a few significant details, those who can go from the subtle â€“as the wine spot on a reporter's sweater- to the pompous, as the dark glasses of the Irish photographer or Sophia Loren's hats. On the other hand, he relied on the audiences' own information, making them interact with the film, adding data or making associations. For example, only those who have seen Vittorio de Sica's "Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow" and "Sunflower," can enjoy to the full the cinematic homage to Sophia and Marcello Mastroianni. Their story echoes "Sunflower", while there is a reprise of Sophia's strip-tease in "YesterdayÂ…" with a different and sad effect on Marcello; or if you have been in an event like the one in the film, you may remember people as the characters played by Tim Robbins and Julia Roberts, two reporters who spend the whole event making love in their hotel rooms."PrÃªt-Ã -porter" is a good film, which contains some of the typical Altmanian digressions that some do not enjoy. But, as Andrei Tarkovsky once said: "When you are in front of a really major figure, you have to accept him with all his weaknesses, which become distinctive qualities of his aesthetics."
Thank you Robert Altman for all your great work! (by amaryken)
Who else but Bob Altman has such a following of great talent--that is to say the vast array of talented actors and actresses who work on his films and love the guy. What more could be said about any man?As for Ready To Wear, what a visual delight. The photography, the lighting and color is awesome. The acting is superb. The story is a hoot. I can't imagine anyone giving this movie a low grade, but then I can't imagine anyone being a simple-minded reactionary either.
Robert Altman rules! (by tomweber3)
This film is messy, disjointed and sprawling just as life is. I loved it so much when I saw it last night on Independent Film Channel, and was amazed that it got such horrible reviews. Oh well most of my favorite movies got horrible reviews.Like most Altman films, this is a compendium of tiny little moments. He gets together an absolutely stunning cast and gives the actors their heads. More an actors' jam session than a movie. For an old Fellini fan like me, the scenes between Mastroianni and Loren are priceless. They are playing basically themselves, this is not a spoiler at all.Vicious, <more>
sarcastic, funny as hell, right on target, this is Altman's take on the old folk tale "The Emperor's New Clothes". Nudge nudge, wink wink, say no more.
"I am Diogenes the Dog. I nuzzle the kind, bark at the greedy and bite scoundrels!" â€“ DiogenesLike most of Robert Altman's films, "Pret-a-Porter" involves a large cast of characters gathering together to put on a performance, in this case a prestigious fashion show in Paris.The film was marketed as a satire, but it really isn't. This is fashion industry as scatology, a "world of sh*t" in which everything is grotesque and warped. As with Diane Arbus' famous photographs on "freaks", Altman deliberately blurs the boundaries between the <more>
"ideal" and the "abnormal", the "beautifully formed" and the "deformed", the "feces" and the "sanitary", the "inside" and the "outside".All the characters here are thus "freaks" in some way, all part of the same freakish human circus. There are dwarf attendants and magazine editors, transvestites, cross-dressers, lesbians, gays, the obese, the pregnant, adulterers, illegitimate babies, mortuary attendants, and a multitude of abrasive caricatures. Mixed in with these are the "ideal" bodies of the celebrities, the exposed unnatural/natural bodies of the models, identical twins who exchange their sexual partners, film-star parodies, television personalities and original film-stars reliving previous roles.Altman then contrasts modern sex icons Basinger, Roberts etc , with ageing, disintegrating sex icons of the past Sophia Loren, Lauren Bacall etc , and goes out of his way to tarnish "surface beauty" by imbuing the film's sex bombs with abrasive personalities.The much derided abrasiveness of the film is therefore intentional. Altman isn't just dealing with caricatures, he's dealing with the grotesque. Of course grotesque art is, by definition, "the least ideal form", always a war of "attraction and repulsion". As such, the reoccurring motifs here are dogs, animals and dog feces. More than juvenile poop jokes, Altman's recalling the scatological traditions of Diogenes, the dog philosopher.Diogenes was associated with public outbursts and obscenity. His ragged, unashamedly dirty existence radiated disrespect and contempt for all who gazed upon him. But while he was an animal, putrid and filthy, he was nevertheless "more civilised" than his "cultured" audience. In a similar fashion, everyone in this film is held under the contemptible gaze of Diogenes, whose mischievous dog feces show scorn for an intrusive and aggressive kind of, not so much modern culture typified by television, celebrity, photography, fame and fashion â€“ the usual boring targets of satire , but the hypocrisy of all culture.In the film, both television and photography are implicitly connected by characters accidentally stepping in dog feces. These accidents occur in both private and public places, playfully linking the home, studio and streets with a media culture which both intrudes on privacy exposing shameful human behaviours, foibles and frailties and disguises these behaviours by glitzing and glamming them up. So Altman is less concerned about the fashion industry, than about what garments and technology alternatively hide and expose, the prevalence of his symbolic doggy poop serving to bring the "high" down "low". Everything is grotesque whether you're on or off the catwalk.The film ends with a nude catwalk scene, one of Altman's most brilliant sequences. Here, models walk fully nude whilst the words "You're so beautiful the way you are" hum on the soundtrack. The sequence derides the commodification of "beauty", serves as an admittance that humanity is as grotesque as its ornaments/apparels, works as a dig at the fashion industry's obsession with "authenticity" the true "inner subject/self", the "stripped down ego or essence" , and of course points toward the end result of all fashion-as-fetish-wear: total, naked sex. More than this, though, the sequence suggests that there is beauty in freakishness and freakishness in beauty, which is why a strange aura of both life and death radiates from this sequence. The catwalk models are like clones, cold stick figures, one of which is pregnant. The pregnant model speaks of a mystery about birth and something new, but she is also the least sexual of the models. Conversely, the others are like zombies, dead, crawling out of a tomb, yet are beautifully sexualised.This blurring, this confusion ugliness in beauty, beauty in ugliness is the very point of Grotesque art. Unlike the satirist, the grotesque artist does not analyse and instruct in terms of right and wrong or true and false satire logical, grotesque irrational , nor does he attempt to distinguish between these. On the contrary, he is concerned about demonstrating their inseparability. Satire generally aims at three reactions from the audience - laughter, anger or disgust - but it aims to produce these separately. The grotesque, however, produces a reaction of confusion. With satire, there is an alternation or distinction between laughter and the gross evil which arouses anger. With the grotesque, however, laughter, hatred and anger seem to meld.Beyond this there are references to "Funny Face" and "Blow Up" guess why , and Altman re-enacts a scene from De Sica's "Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow" with the same actors Loren and Mastroianni . It's like the two lovers from De Sica's film itself a film in which Loren and Mastroianni played multiple characters stepped out of it and resumed their tale 40 years later in older bodies. Surprisingly, the same lead actors from Fellini's "La Dolce Vita" also appear, adding a dark tinge to Fellini's tale of those seeking "the good life".Tactics like this create a further effect. The characters lose weight, becoming flat, depth-less images. Consider when the real Elsa Klensch is interviewed by Kim Basinger who plays an Elsa Klensch character or when "real celebrities" like Cher and Harry Bellefonte briefly appear but yet still come across as empty, screen representations of themselves. The film paints a world obsessed with the "image", but stresses that there are few "authentic" images. The supermodels of the 90s were clones, destratified personae, simulations of imagined and imagined bodies, part of man's ritualised games of narcissism. By the films end, even a naked repudiation of this narcissism becomes a form of narcissism.7.5/10 â€“ Two viewings required.
I am completely baffled at the bad reviews this movie received. Robert Altman apparently shot first and came up with a story board later, and we are the richer for it. Just as the finale of this romp is definitive statement on the putative subject of the ready to wear fashion week,so this movie is a statement on movie making, and the conclusions would appear to be the same. Altman's confidence in dispensing with the conventions of plot, character development, the classic forms of boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy jumps off the Eiffel Tower, girl moves in with Godzilla, is as stunning as <more>
the final scene. The sheer pleasure of watching Altman's usual suspects perform at the top of their game is enough reason to watch the movie. I will never look at Forest Whitaker and Rupert Everett in the same way. As for Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni, blame it all on pasta. And as for the clothes and the people and the sad old boobs of publishers, frosting on the cake. What a complete visual joy!
I was surprised to hear such malignant commentaries from those who have watched this film. Granted, it is not done in Altman's usual style, and may seem vague or shallow to some, but I believe that this is a misconception. The characters... some are rather undeveloped, but I have a hunch that this is on purpose. 2 hours is not enough to form a picture of a person, and so I think Altman made them so undeveloped because these are, when all is said and done, regular people. A large amount of correspondents, a few model designers, a bit of these, a few of those... the only character which <more>
seemed foolishly vague in my opinion was the Communist Italian. Apart from that, I only saw people that I would see on the street, or on some show, or some that I wouldn't see at all, that merely write stories which others publish and get credited for.The theme of fashion design seems to be quite irrelevant here, or rather, it serves as the backdrop for an array of the aforementioned characters. Who cares about a fashion show when such drama is going on? Who cares who designed what dress when a mischievous Irishman is so irreverently teasing famous personages in such a hilarious manner? Who cares what outfit was voted best when two complete strangers are trying to sort out the mess their arrival was? All in all, I believe that this movie fits comfortably among Altman's successes. The story is gripping, logical, and possesses a vivid array of characters reminiscent of Guy Ritchie's films yes, not exactly chronically correct: Guy Ritchie came later, but I just wanted to make the image. , and funny. An enjoyment from beginning to end.