This luminous documentary, subtly put together, rolls smoothly through the unusual life of fashion commentator, critic and boulevardier André Leon Talley. Scored with low key lyrical music, the film shows Talley as a multi-faceted, African American gay man who came from the Deep South, went to school to study French literature, found employment in the couture world in France and entered the world stage as a key figure in the fashion industry. Talley emerges as a complicated person, who retained his grandmother’s sensibility and life lessons and who cultivated an over the top presence that was built in a sense of honesty.
Kate Novak’s insightful exploration of the life of American fashionista, André Leon Talley.
Covering the history of an American surfing group of boys that grew up in the 1970s and came to be known as Momentum Generation, the documentary takes an unusual approach to this sporting legend. The film sets up its surfing narrative immediately as one with an emotional arc. It situates each boy in child abuse (almost all had violent, antagonistic fathers and/or broken homes). From there the story focuses on how the boys formed a group cohesion (the adolescent surfers all lived in Hawaii in the home of one of the boys and began to compete together), then experienced success (many won the World Surfer trophy), followed by self-abuse (drugs, rage) and decline (inability to deal with competition, friendship, success or failure), and then rehabilitation and reconciliation (the group sought each other out after years apart and became supportive friends). Furthermore, and as interesting, the film’s script zeroes in on this arc as specifically a male one, accompanied by the difficulties of dealing with society’s demand that boys have a crucial need for competition. The film shows how boys are pushed toward fomenting a dominating ego in order to succeed at a stressful, dangerous sport/task and also shows how this ego is offset by the social injunction that males hide any fragility felt during this difficult struggle. The film poses both extremes as social constructs and this makes the documentary a useful means to generate discussions among all kinds of people about these issues.
The film, though long, moves quickly and has some extraordinary footage of the surfers, especially underwater. It is strung together with abundant home movies of these good-looking, healthy young men, which act as a strange counter to the reality of their unhappy childhoods. Women feature extremely briefly as mother figures and later, in the last few minutes of the film, as wives. Designating women as only wives and mothers in itself poses the need to open the dialogue about social roles.
A compelling, beautifully shot, surfer story, which also reveals the pressures on young men in competitive sports and under male domination.
This lucid documentary covers British couturier Alexander McQueen’s career, closely knitting together the elements that augmented McQueen’s rise from a Savile Row tailors’ assistant to one of fashion’s greatest geniuses. The film reveals the contrasts which formed McQueen’s talent, starting with his teenager apprenticeship to London’s haute couture men’s wear tailors and his fascination with what an education opened up for him and ending with his wild and brilliant experimentation with what wearing clothes could be like as well as what fashion shows could be like. It is an intensely heartbreaking film. People in the audience audibly cried throughout, knowing that while McQueen’s talent ascended his inner life suffered and he died of suicide at the age of 41.
A poignant lucid documentary that charts the life and career of British couturier Alexander McQueen
Produced by Kirby Dick’s longtime documentary partner, Amy Ziering, and written and directed by Dick, The Bleeding Edge uncovers lethal health risks that are inherent in new but much used technology for simple common operations such as the mesh vaginal implant, the surgically embedded birth prevention device, and the metal hip replacement. The film is rudimentary in its format, much like Dick and Ziering’s previous activist films, which focus on subjects like rape in the military (The Invisible War 2012), rape on college campuses (The Hunting Ground 2015) and gay bashing politicians who are gay themselves (Outrage 2009). The film interviews women who, after implanting vaginal meshes or birth prevention devices, experienced horrendous consequences including hemorrhaging, loss of libido and permanent tissue damage, which, in some cases, led to marriage breakups and homelessness. The patients who had opted for a metal (versus plastic) hip replacement experienced a poison that attacked their mental and emotional acuity so severely it was akin to the effects of Alzheimer’s disease. The Bleeding Edge exposes how the medical manufacturers and also the FDA suppress any opposition and how neither enforces laws that would ensure that these devices work correctly. Despite ending with an exhortation to the viewer to become an activist and with information on where and how to do this, The Bleeding Edge is bleak because it underscores how overwhelming the situation is.
This documentary is a valuable exposé of the malpractice and abuse of patients’ rights in the medical system and its new technology under the FDA watch.