The September Issue
Time Out New York Project: Issue #726, August 27-September 2, 2009
Dir. R.J. Cutler. 2009. PG-13. 90mins. Documentary.
Vogue VIP Anna Wintour slinks though this highly entertaining vérité documentary like a stoic, sunglasses-bedecked fetish doll. Give her a knife and a temper-raising goose and she wouldn’t be out of place chasing a screeching Karen Black around her apartment. As is, Vogue will have to do as the editrix-in-chief’s weapon of choice. It’s a powerfully blunt instrument, an essential, oft-infuriating component of the $300-billion global fashion industry.
Director R.J. Cutler follows Wintour and her staff as they plan the September 2007 issue of the magazine, which is still the largest (in terms of both size and sales) in the publication’s history. The people on display here are neither lionized, nor criticized. Cutler just allows them be and so our interest in them lives or dies on how fascinating we find the world they belong to.
Indeed, once you’re hip to Wintour’s approach (cruelly cold and distant in the office, benevolently cold and distant at home) she becomes a fairly monotonous presence. The doc’s breakout star is Vogue creative director Grace Coddington whose plain appearance (the end result of a horrible car accident) and frumpy clothing belies her genius for fashion. She counters her boss every chance she can get and provides the film with a much needed emotional center.—Keith Uhlich