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Saturday, 17 May 2014

Unaltered appreciation

This is a review of Advanced Style (2014)

More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2014
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17 May

This is a review of Advanced Style (2014)

One does not immediately place the phrase, but the title of Lina Plioplyte's film (and of Ari Seth Cohen’s book, which gave rise to it, and his blog before it) plays upon the hackneyed words 'at [my / your, etc.] advanced age'.

The film tells the story of the older women whom Cohen made it his project, after he had been advised to come to New York City to find his inspiration, to feature on his blog (and we see him approaching new candidates on the street) : although he is present a fair bit to help the ones whom he featured earlier on ‘manage’ what is happening, it is their story, and nothing in this Dogwoof documentary takes away from that.

In several cases, these well-dressed women on the street already had their own boutiques, which featured the fashions that they liked and which they wanted to preserve for others to buy, whereas others had been models in earlier times, but the thing that they had in common was enjoying wearing the clothes out and about and them being seen, which is where Cohen had found them.

With a little help from his blog and then from the resultant book, things had begun to happen in the fashion world, with t.v. appearances and modelling work. Although each showed taste, self-belief and talent, probably each of us will have a favourite for her look and what she aspires to, whether Tziporah Salamon, showing off her clothes on her bicycle, or Ilona Smithkin, teaching art, and making her own eyelashes.

Maybe the colour balance had been slightly shifted so that the functional establishing street-shots shone less than the scenes, full of colour, when outfits were bursting out of the screen. However, the whole choice of foils to the moments of flowering of fashion was equally a very good one, and the film also pulled no punches in addressing rivalry, disability and decline.

The connection and caring between these women, with their sense of style, was the most heartening, alongside seeing them gain recognition that they may not have expected : they are, of course, a paradigm for people of all kinds who may no longer be seen for who they are or what they can do, but who are there to be recognized…

Unless stated otherwise, all films reviewed were screened at Festival Central (Arts Picturehouse, Cambridge)

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