More views of – or before – Cambridge Film Festival 2015 (3 to 13 September)
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)
Having seen Iris (2014) at Sheffield Doc/Fest 2015, one was struck straightaway by how it is a lesser account than Advanced Style (2014) of the phenomenon of not just #irisapfel, but these other women, becoming a style icon later in life – is that why it is only now on UK release (when there seems to be relatively little more to say about the film) ?
At first, one just put the following simple paragraph in the round-up of events (without intending a piece that would end up in Seen at Sheffield : Doc/Fest films with full reviews) :
Iris (2014) (Odeon Screen 8) – unlike with Mavis !, a film that was not exactly awash with humility, although Iris Apfel is a great encourager and collector with definite tastes and flair, and where doing a deal – having justified the concept of haggling in its appropriate place – seemed part of the thrill of the chase in remorseless acquisitiveness (although tempered by giving archive material, both temporarily and permanently)
Now, however, as the wheels of publicity are pushing this big imagery of Iris Apfel from film-posters and trailers – though, really, when one has seen a few outfits with an excess, in size and number, of necklaces / pendants, and bangles / bracelets, one has a pretty good guess at how she will dress next – it seems germane to ask a few more things :
* Maybe Apfel was an inspiration, too, to Ari [Seth] Cohen to write the book on which the film that Lina Plioplyte made is based, but one does not have to root around in Advanced Style to find what makes it a story worth telling (please see below) : not just true-life feature films, but documentaries, not only need stories that are substantially factually true, but that have a truth about them as to why they need to be told*
-> 'Viewer entertainment will vary in direct proportion to interest in the unusual but ultimately mundane details of Apfel’sday-to-day'— THE AGENT APSLEY (@THEAGENTAPSLEY) July 28, 2015
The movie plays a dutiful personal assistant, tagging along with Apfelduring her routines without ever crafting something like a storyline— THE AGENT APSLEY (@THEAGENTAPSLEY) July 28, 2015
* By contrast, Apfel’s story is very static, consisting essentially of having had a big break of being asked [or did she offer ? (one forgets)], by someone who knew of her private collection, to display some costumes (and, inevitably, accessorize them) when an exhibition fell through – true The diva is indisposed stuff (where the understudy gets to shine and be loved)
Little happens in Iris; small moments are drawn-out, and we get a frankly too-slow tour through her [...] quarters : http://t.co/emscdNkehK— THE AGENT APSLEY (@THEAGENTAPSLEY) July 29, 2015
* Yes, the exhibition was the first of its kind, and it has led to other breaks, but that is the essentially recognition late in life territory of the other film, except that we are not forced to have just Apfel as our focus – her collection of couture may be well chosen and curated, but that, apart from stories of her husband’s and her days and expertise in interior design (where only the cognoscenti knew them and what they did), and seeing them together now, is all that the film, over and over, is about
* It is not just that Advanced Style can be multi-stranded in a way that, for the reasons given, Iris is not (though that is not to say that a way of reanimating the rather plainly presented material could not have been employed), but that, for women such as Tziporah Salamon (http://www.tziporahsalamon.com), it is all happening in the time of the film for her and others to be invited to appear on covers (rather than for us to be told that it happened for Apfel, and to see her do others, and make what are not new kinds of appearances in the fashion world)
* And, in those whose endorsements are quoted on the poster (please see above), we notice not cinema reviews, but that they are from lead fashion magazines Marie Claire and Elle UK (as well as Red Magazine)...
* And Iris feels more like a Big Eyes (2014) amongst documentaries, in that, however remarkable the story may be, does that per se make it one that needs to be, or benefits from, being told as a piece of cinema ?
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Unless stated otherwise, all films reviewed were screened at Festival Central (Arts Picturehouse, Cambridge)