The familiar tragic story of Vincent van Gogh is broadened by focusing as well on his brother Theodore, who helped support Vincent. The movie also provides a nice view of the locations which Vincent painted.
A parody and satire of the U.S. political scene of the time, HealtH is set at a health food convention at a Florida luxury hotel, where a powerful political organization is deciding on a new president.
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.Written by
In the hotel room, Anne Eisenhower lifts a glass of wine from Joe Flynn's dining cart with her left hand and takes a drink. Joe makes a comment and it can be seen that Anne's left arm is up to her face (she is visible from the chest down), but when we cut back to Anne the glass is in her right hand as she puts it down. See more »
[subtitled version - opening lines are in French, the English subtitles are a very rough translation]
Olivier de la Fontaine:
Moscow? What's this about? Put that on the desk. Dear Mr. de la Fontaine: blah, blah, blah, blah... blah, blah, blah, blah...
Isabella de la Fontaine:
Robin. Robin. I told you not to! It's dirty. You shouldn't do that. Not in the house.
[to Olivier de la Fontaine]
Isabella de la Fontaine:
You're a shit.
See more »
The film's opening scene where Mastroianni buys the 2 Dior ties is set in Moscow's Red Square and the first 2 lines of credits (a Miramax production and a Robert Altman film) appear solely in Cyrillic characters See more »
Back in 1994, when Robert Altman made "Prêt-à-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 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, "Prêt-à-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 –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 –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 "Yesterday " 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.
"Prêt-à-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."
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