Models | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Models 

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Facets Cinematheque says this Ulrich Seidl documentary about three Austrian models "invades the personal space of these public women," but it's more that their personalities invade our public space: the film's primary image is of them primping for the camera as if it were a mirror. As he made clear with the recent release of his first drama, Dog Days, Seidl doesn't differentiate between documentary and fiction: in both he seeks out nonactors and gets them to improvise their parts, believing that their fictionalization is more revealing than any objective record. In this case his subjects are so eager to expose themselves to the public that the strategy works unusually well; this 1998 film, part of a weeklong Seidl retrospective at Facets, runs a little long but provides a frank look at the unbridled narcissism of women who make a living selling not their bodies but the sight of them. "What's important to me is a nicely packaged ass," declares a high-profile fashion photographer during his prolonged seduction of the aspiring Vivian, who keeps trying to extract a promise that he'll give her a photo session. She and her pals come clean about their dieting, anorexia, breast implants, intensive cosmetic regimens, coke-fueled club hopping, and unsafe sex. Yet nothing's closer to the truth than one of the staged mirror sessions at a dance club, when Vivian mutters, "All this for those dicks out there." In German with subtitles. 118 min. Facets Cinematheque, 1517 W. Fullerton, Friday, January 17, 8:45, and Tuesday, January 21, 6:30, 773-281-4114.

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