The Gospel According to André
Riveting Retrospective Chronicles Career of Flamboyant Fashionista
André Leon Talley was born on October 16, 1949 in Washington D.C., but raised in Durham, N.C. by his maternal grandmother, Bennie Davis. Even though she was a housekeeper who scrubbed floors at Duke University to keep a roof over their heads, she was also aristocratic in the highest sense of the word.
Through Mamie, André cultivated the values and sense of dignity which would serve him well once he made his way out of the Jim Crow South. For, after earning his BA at North Carolina Central University and an MA at Brown in French, he headed to New York City to begin what would be an incomparable career in the world of fashion.
That impressive accomplishment is chronicled in very compelling fashion in The Gospel According to André, an intimate retrospective directed by Kate Novack (Eat This New York). A profusion of pop icons pay homage to the flamboyant fashionista in the biopic, including will.i.am, supermodel Isabella Rossellini, designer Diane von Furstenberg and Sean “P. Diddy” Combs, who kisses his hand.
However, the cameos pale in comparison to André’s own revealing account of how he overcame his modest roots with the help of his mentor, doyenne Diana Vreeland, as well as Andy Warhol, Karl Lagerfeld and Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour. We learn that he arrived in the Big Apple a diamond-in-the-rough, given how he’d been appreciating style since childhood.
He explains that he’d been treated to a weekly fashion show by the ladies in his church’s congregation. While many of these proud black women might have toiled as lowly domestic servants during the week, they would invariably arrive decked out on Sunday. André’s thirst for haute couture was further whetted by magazines like W and Vogue which enabled him to mentally escape the limitations of life in racist North Carolina to a fantasy universe filled with pleasant and beautiful pictures.
On his way up the ladder, the 6′ 6″ tall trailblazer studiously avoided the traps of drugs and indiscriminate sexual liaisons that destroyed the future of so many others in the ‘70s and ‘80s. André does confess to being a regular on Studio 54’s dance floor, but he just never participated in any of the self-destructive behavior.
Instead, he parlayed successes at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Warhol’s Interview magazine and Women’s Wear Daily into a gig as Vogue‘s Fashion News Director. In that capacity, he became a fixture on the front row of leading runway shows, cutting an imposing figure in his signature flowing capes.
And what sage advice does the trendsetting André have to offer today? “Fashion is fleeting. Style remains. Create your own universe, and share it with people you respect and love. Beauty comes in many forms. It could be a flower. it could be a gesture.”
Precious pearls of wisdom, indeed, from a legendary gentle giant.
Excellent (4 stars)
Rated PG-13 for mature themes and some suggestive content
In French with subtitles
Running time: 94 minutes
Production Studio: RossVack Productions [Andrew Rossi/Kate Novack]
Distributor: Magnolia Pictures
Carter & June
Bank Heist Comedy Has Shades of Baby Driver
Baby Driver was this critic’s pick for the No. 1 movie of 2017. It never takes very long for idea-bereft Hollywood to imitate a successful venture. Exhibit A: Carter & June, a bank robbery flick which fails to measure up to Baby Driver, whether or not that cinematic masterpiece served as the source of director/co-writer Nicholas Kalikow’s inspiration.
A la Baby Driver, Carter & June revolves around a waitress and mobster under the thumb of a Machiavellian villain. But where the former film featured an A-list cast with Jamie Foxx, Jon Hamm, Kevin Spacey and Ansel Elgort, the latter’s ensemble doesn’t have any matinee idols.
Michael Raymond-James and Samaire Armstrong co-star as the title characters Carter & June, respectively, an action-driven dramedy set in New Orleans. Like the protagonist of Baby Driver, Carter is a small-time crook looking to go legit. Trouble is, he’s indebted to Spencer Rabbit (Timothy Omundson), a vicious crime boss operating with impunity in the city because so many crooked cops, including the police commissioner (Paul Rae), are on the take.
At the point of departure, we find Carter losing a load of Rabbit’s cash during a drug deal gone bad. That means the only way to get back in the kingpin’s good graces and out of his unsavory line of work once and for all is to participate in an elaborate heist of a cool half-million dollars from the New Orleans Bank & Trust. Of course, that will prove easier said than done.
Unfortunately, for the audience’s purposes, the screen is littered with more sidebars and support characters than you might care to keep track of. For instance, there’s a compromised cop (James Landry Hebert) with a greedy wife (Lindsay Musil) who’s secretly sleeping with a local preacher (Will Beinbrink). And June just happens to be in the midst a bitter custody battle with her vindictive ex over their young daughter.
An over-plotted mess that throws everything but the kitchen sink up on the screen.
Fair (1 star)
Running time: 87 minutes
Production Studios: Sacred Bull Media / Octane Entertainment
Distributor: Freestyle Digital Media
OPENING THIS WEEK
Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun
For movies opening May 25, 2018
Solo: A Star Wars Story (PG-13 for violence and sci-fi action sequences) Second installment in the Star Wars anthology revolves around Han Solo’s (Alden Ehrenreich) early escapades in a dark and dangerous underworld where he befriends his future co-pilot, Chewbacca (Jonas Suotamo). Supporting cast includes Donald Glover, Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke and Thandie Newton.
INDEPENDENT & FOREIGN
Future World (R for violence, nudity, sexuality, profanity and drug use) Sci-fi thriller about a desperate prince (Jeffrey Wahlberg) who embarks on an epic journey across a devastated wasteland in search of a mythical medicine which might cure his terminally-ill mom (Lucy Liu). With James Franco, Snoop Dogg and Suki Waterhouse.
The Gospel According to André (PG-13 for mature themes and some suggestive content) Reverential biopic chronicling fashionista André Leon Talley’s overcoming humble roots and Jim Crow segregation on his way to a celebrated career at Vogue magazine. Featuring commentary by Sean “P. Diddy” Combs, Anna Winotur, Tom Ford, Whoopi Goldberg and will.i.am.
How Long Will I Love You (Unrated) Time-travel, romantic fantasy about a woman living in 2018 who wakes up in bed with a man living in 1999. Co-starring Jiayin Lei, Liya Tong and Zheng Xu. (In Mandarin with subtitles.)
How to Talk to Girls at Parties (R for nudity, sexuality, drug use and pervasive profanity) Sci-fi comedy, set in London in ’77, about a shy teen (Alex Sharp) who falls in love with a beautiful alien from another planet (Elle Fanning) he meets at an after-hours rave. With Nicole Kidman, Ruth Wilson and Matt Lucas.
In Darkness (Unrated) Crime thriller about a blind pianist (Natalie Dormer) who ends up on the run from Russian mobsters after hearing a neighbor (Emily Ratajkowski) murdered in her upstairs apartment. Featuring Ed Skrein, Joely Richardson and James Cosmo.
Mary Shelley (PG-13 for sexuality, mature themes and substance abuse) Elle Fanning plays the title character in this biopic about the rebellious teen who married the poet Percy Shelley (Douglas Booth) before writing the literary classic Frankenstein. With Maisie Williams, Ben Hardy and Bel Powley.
The Misandrists (Unrated) Counter-cultural comedy, set in Berlin, revolving around a group of radical feminists intent on putting an end to patriarchy and ushering in a new world order. Ensemble cast includes Viva Ruiz, Caprice Crawford and Kembra Pfahler. (In English, German and Danish with subtitles.)
Summer 1993 (Unrated) Poignant portrait of a traumatized, 6-year-old orphan’s (Laia Artigas) adjustment to a new life in the country with her aunt (Bruna Cusi), uncle (David Verdaguer) and cousin (Paula Robles). With Montse Sanz, Isabel Rocatti and Fermi Reixach. (In Catalan with subtitles.)
Who We Are Now (Unrated) Tale of redemption revolving around an ex-con’s (Julianne Nicholson) attempt to regain custody of her son with the help of a public defender (Emma Roberts) after spending a decade behind bars for manslaughter. Support cast includes Zachary Quinto, Gloria Reuben, Jimmy Smits, Jason Biggs and Jess Weixler.