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Unzipped

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4

All-Reviews.com Movie Review: Unzipped

Starring: Isaac Mizrahi, Naomi Campbell
Director: Douglas Keeve
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 73 Minutes
Release Date: August 1995
Genres: Documentary, Gay/Lesbian


*Also starring: Sandra Bernhard, Cindy Crawford, Linda Evangelista, Eartha Kitt, Kate Moss



Review by Steve Rhodes
2½ stars out of 4

UNZIPPED is a documentary by first time director Douglas Keeve. It follows famous fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi as he attempts with his Fall 1994 collection to redeem himself after several disappointing years. In short, the movie is a hoot and a lot of fun. As a documentarian, Keeve has a lot to learn. The naturally hilarious antics of Mizrahi save the movie no matter how amateurish the production.

One of the delights of the show is that we get to see many clips of old movies (NANOOK OF THE NORTH, THE CALL OF THE WILD, THE RED SHOES, and WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE?) and TV shows (THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW and others). Besides quoting the shows verbatim, Mizrahi designs his collections based on some of them.

The movie is full of uproarious dialog. As one example, after watching NANOOK OF THE NORTH on TV, Mizrahi decides to model his 1994 Fall collection after the movie, but there is a big problem. He muses that "All I want to do is fur pants, but I know that if do them, I will be stoned off of Fifth Avenue."

Mizrahi's mannerism are as outlandish as his speech. When he mimics Eartha Kitt for whom he is designing clothes, the audience is in stitches. After seeing her house, he tells his dinner friends that he would "kill for a swatch of the wallpaper in her bathroom."

Watching the preparation for the fashion show we get to see the models interviewing for positions. My favorite is a woman who looks like a recent concentration camp survivor, who walks a storm trooper, and who promises Mizrahi that her almost totally shaved head will be completely shaved for the show. I don't think he hired her, but it is not clear.

The movie is full of the glitterati (Eartha Kitt, Cindy Crawford, Richard Geer, Liza Minnelli, Sandra Bernhard, etc.). Cindy Crawford has one of the better lines. When the cameraman is zooming in on her, she tells him, "You are a little too close. My pores are not that small."

Mainly what works in the show is the dialog and the mannerisms, but there is one special scene that has neither. When he gets bad news, Mizrahi is shown walking slowly in blowing, dark, dirty, gray snow in New York City. The ugly snow is a apt metaphor for his emotions and the cinematography captures it perfectly.

His 1994 Fall collection is as outlandish as its designer. Moreover, to provoke and involve fashion critics, he decides to use a scrim like they do at the ballet. He asks his models if they would mind changing clothes behind the scrim so that the audience could see them. He assures them that this will be okay since they will have their underwear on. Most models agree, but some reject the proposal. When it comes time for the show, they appear to all go along anyway.

Coming back to the poor quality of the documentary, it is as much of a mess as is Mizrahi's hair. Just as we learn in the movie, that Mizrahi has a stylist that works hard to give him just the right messy look, so it is clear that Keeve likes having a movie that makes you feel sure that you could do better with your own camcorder.

The cinematography by Ellen Kuras is almost a parody of bad film making. The film stock appears to be a speed of ASA one million as the grain is about the size of silver dollars. The editor (Paula Heredia) seems proud that she leaves in scenes that are of such poor quality that if you shot them, you would immediately erase the tape. Scenes start out of focus and then we get to watch as the camera operator moves the lenses back and forth until it is finally in focus. Many scenes are so white, they may be scenes of polar bears in Siberia for all I know. Sometimes these scenes then go to total black as the operator decides to adjust the iris. I am sure Kuras shot tons of film and most of it has to be better than what we are shown. Although most of the film is in black and white, the few color scenes are in perfect focus and well lit. Sometimes the camera is dropped, but hey, why not show these mistakes to the audience too. Suffice it to say that the filming and the editing are too cute for words. I kept wanting to scream while watching it.

UNZIPPED reminds me of the wonderful British TV show, THE HOUSE OF ELLIOT. They are both about fashion designers who are working extremely hard to be a success and both are high energy shows. Finally, the music in UNZIPPED, especially during the runway scenes of the fashion show, is great and full of energy. You want to go see one of these shows yourself and soon.

UNZIPPED flies by at 1:13. It is not rated, but would probably be PG-13 for a little profanity and models in their underwear. Any teenager could see it with no problems. If you feel like a fun show where you can just have a good time, I recommend UNZIPPED to you, and I award it ** 1/2.

Copyright 1995 Steve Rhodes

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