Best of the Day: Prêt-à-porter – July 6, 2015
Welcome to Best of the Day, our daily recommendation for what to check out around town. If you do one thing in Boston today, consider this.
Nearly a decade has passed since the filmmaking world lost one of its top talents, Robert Altman, who started making movies in 1956 and died in 2006. In 1970, his counterculture smash hit M*A*S*H vaulted him into the public eye and cemented his star as part of the “New Hollywood” wave of the ’70s—the same decade he made his neo-noir The Long Goodbye (1973), his big-ensemble spectacle Nashville (1975), and his hallucinatory 3 Women (1977). But Altman—a director as prolific as he was ambitious and innovative—stayed active for decades, reaching a 50-year career milestone with such 21st-century films as 2001’s Gosford Park.
This summer, the Harvard Film Archive pays tribute to the legendary director, with “The Complete Robert Altman.” Since June (and continuing through August 31), they’ve been screening his films one by one, from early effort The Perfect Crime (1955), a rather grim 20-minute driver’s ed film for the National Safety Council, to his final movie, A Prairie Home Companion (2006).
Tonight’s installment is 1994’s Prêt-à-porter, released as Ready to Wear in the States. This wry look at the preposterousness of Paris Fashion Week—and the three-ring media circus surrounding it—was initially panned by critics, who found its skewering of the fashion industry too gentle and its plot (some of it improvised) too meandering.
But 20 years after its initial release, the HFA makes a case for why this one’s worth another look—and not just for the glimpse of early ’90s couture. “Altman’s legacy is still being determined, in part because of the size and variety of his oeuvre,” writes the HFA’s David Pendleton. “His disregard for storytelling kept him at the margins of the film industry, even as his love for actors, and their love for him, meant that he was able to work with almost every major star of the past fifty years.” Which is a pretty apt description of the cast of Prêt-à-porter, which includes Sophia Loren, Julia Roberts, Richard E. Grant, Tim Robbins, Rupert Everett, and Forest Whitaker.
$7-$12, July 6, 7 p.m., Harvard Film Archive, 24 Quincy St., Cambridge, 617-495-4700, hcl.harvard.edu.