An Alamo Drafthouse Series Assembles the Delights and Depravities of ‘Fashion in Film’
The fashion industry, simultaneously glamorous and cutthroat, naturally lends itself to onscreen intrigue: There’s a distinct pleasure to be had in watching characters wear opulent costumes we wouldn’t dare try on ourselves in real life. Phantom Thread, Paul Thomas Anderson’s emotionally prickly tale of a mid-century London couturier, has emerged as the most recent arrival in the cinema’s pantheon of fashion-world allure. With the movie now playing at Brooklyn’s Alamo Drafthouse in glorious 70mm, staff programmer Cristina Cacioppo has assembled a characteristically playful companion lineup of nine other films that also represent the vast potential of fabulous outfits to captivate audiences. (The series began earlier this month and continues through the end of January.)
The offerings include both depictions of the industry itself and films that are just plain fashionable. The oldest title here, Stanley Donen’s Funny Face (1957), proposes one of the movies’ classic fashion-narrative templates, with Audrey Hepburn embodying the arty gamine turned glamour girl. (A whole separate series could be dedicated to fashion in film before the Fifties, what with the famous designers and glorious gowns of the studio era, but hopefully Alamo’s inspired slate will inspire moviegoers to do some stylish digging of their own in that department.) Phantom Thread borrows elements from Funny Face’s Pygmalion formula and dramatically subverts them with the push-and-pull between the excellently named, finicky designer Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis, in his reported final role) and the rosy-cheeked waitress Alma (Vicky Krieps), who becomes his muse. The power dynamics on display veer toward kink as Alma and Woodcock push each other’s buttons, leaving the audience unsure who has the upper hand until the blackly comic final moments.
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