The Devil Wears Prada was the launching pad for films about the glamor and absurdity of the fashion industry. It was followed by documentaries such as The September Issue that explored the workings of Vogue magazine and the character of Anne Wintour, the editor-in-chief of American Vogue. Mademoiselle C takes another character out of Vogue iconography, in this case Vogue Paris editor-in-chief and fashion stylist Carine Roitfeld, focusing on her move from Europe to launch her own magazine in New York. It features a virtual horde of big name designers and entertainers, with the likes of Jean-Paul Gaultier, Karl Lagerfeld, and Donatella Versace, as well as Beyonce Knowles, Kirsten Dunst, Marion Cotillard … the list goes on and on, but what it all adds up to is a rather vapid celebration of all the lovely, talented and creative people who make the fashion industry the rarified and inexplicable place that it is. While fashionistas might get something out of the slew of interviews the film presents and the behind the scenes footage of great designers at work, those who don’t go limp at the thought of new spring fashions are unlikely to find it either particularly entertaining or informative.
Visually captivating and superficially intriguing, The Signal manages to be annoying and disappointing by turns as it sidesteps what at first seems some very considerable conceptual aims in favor of creating a sci-fi mind trip that blends elements of both District 9 and The Blair Witch Project, but fails to achieve its own individuality. Nick (Brenton Thwaites) and Jonah (Beau Knapp) are MIT freshmen with a passion for hacking. They follow hints from a rival hacker that leads them into a terrifying and mind bending confinement at a facility in the middle of nowhere. They have to make sense of what is going on, as indeed, does the audience. Given its relatively small budget and low profile cast, The Signal has some truly noteworthy moments, and while performances are solid, the star of the show is the exquisite visual design. Reality, fantasy and alternative reality meld together in ways that allow director William Eubank to create some surprising twists and turns, and while there is some pleasure in enjoying the director’s technical skill, it is difficult to avoid the suspicion that beneath all the sci-fi gloss, there really isn’t a whole lot going on.
Nicolas Cage sure can pick’em. Hard as it is to believe, he has taken a step further down the ladder in the straight-to-video action flick, surpassing even the vapid tastelessness of the Ghostrider movies. Also released under the title Rage, this film tells the story of reformed criminal Paul Maguire (Cage) who has gone legit after making a big haul from highjacking a shipment from the Russian mob. Inevitably, the past comes back to haunt him when teenage daughter Caitlin (Aubrey Peeples) is abducted. Maguire reconnects with old buddies, Kane (Max Ryan) and Danny (Michael McGrady), from the Irish mob to take revenge. It is a bloody business, and director Paco Cabezas seems less interested in telling a story than in showing scenes of extreme violence. Cage’s character is one dimensional, and given that it is difficult to care much about any of the other characters, there is little dramatic force behind the scenes of nasty people doing nasty things to each other. Production values are perfectly adequate, and Tokarev will work well enough with beer and pizza in front of the television.