Model | Chicago Reader

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Frederick Wiseman's 1980 documentary focuses on the day-to-day operations of the Manhattan modeling agency Zoli. His camera records shoptalk and gossip backstage at a fashion show, at photo shoots, the making of a TV spot, store openings, and job interviews of aspiring models (“You have that Avon kind of look,” says a staffer to a disappointed applicant, trying to soften the bad news). Much attention is devoted to the time spent on primping the models for an unblemished, marketable image—of panty-hosed legs, for example. While it exposes the tedium, narcissism, and insularity of this almost entirely white world, the film's subject matter doesn't invite the empathy that informs Wiseman's best work. 129 min.

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