Eleven Minutes

"Good"

Eleven Minutes Review


There are few things in the world less important than fashion. Yet that doesn't stop an entire media apparatus from feeding breathlessly upon every scrap of glam celebrity that sloughs off each year's camera-flash-strobed Paris and New York shows. Add to this sycophantic horde a bevy of designers willing to assign themselves highly undue significance, and you have a creature that feeds upon itself with unseemly zest.

Given that, it's all the more refreshing to watch a cool and streamlined documentary like Eleven Minutes, which manages to scrupulously sketch out the process of what goes into creating a fashion show -- for a designer who got his start on reality TV, of all places -- while never losing its sense of perspective. Co-directors Michael Selditch and Rob Tate gave themselves a problematic subject when they set their sights on Jay McCarroll, a star on the first season of Project Runway, but ultimately never let their film get lost in the glare.

It certainly helps that McCarroll himself is no imperial-styled Karl Lagerfeld protégé. A heavyset guy from Philadelphia with a penchant for headbands and fey jokes, McCarroll has an outsize personality that only starts to show its fangs after too many late nights and busted deadlines. As the film follows McCarroll over the several month process during which he gears up for his first designer showcase at the 2007 New York Fashion Week in Bryant Park, it becomes apparent that there's a genuinely decent-seeming person behind all the stressful flipouts and designer-theorizing. (Something that one might imagine could permanently block him from success in the fashion world, but that's another story.)

Eleven Minutes -- its name comes from the short but telescoped length of the show McCarroll is spending so much time and effort preparing for -- is something of a fashion-wonk piece, and not in a bad way. Although Selditch and Tate's cameras spend plenty of time dealing with the celebrity side of things, tracking the dual-edged sword of McCarroll's fame (without his Project Runway stint, he probably would never have gotten his own show, but because of that fame the industry is waiting with bared claws), they're most fascinated with the how of what McCarroll is doing.

This could lead to disappointment on the part of celeb-reality fans who watch the film, some of whom may thrill at the brief appearance of PR heavyweight Kelly Cutrone, who also cuts a swath with Type-A venom on The Hills. But although there's some juicy tidbits on what celebrities might be attending McCarroll's show, and plenty of catfights between the exhausted designer, his (unpaid) workers, and Cutrone's crew, the filmmakers look more at how McCarroll tries to create a dress out of metal grommets or at the man making the show's shoes.

In refusing to make McCarroll into a hero or villain, and just portraying him as a decent guy with a soaring imagination (the theme is focused around balloons and an obscure 1960s design movement; it all sort of makes sense), Eleven Minutes becomes a more real piece of work than one would expect. Filmmakers covering the likes of Lagerfeld or Mizrahi (both subjects of similar documentaries) have tended to approach their subjects gingerly, like acolytes allowed entry to the hallowed chamber and unwilling to displease the master. For their part, Selditch and Tate clearly have affection for McCarroll, but they show it by presenting him not as some art/fashion demigod or spoiled reality star, but as someone pouring every possible ounce of effort into something that is ultimately as far from consequential as could be imagined. They do him the courtesy of honesty.

Finally, an outfit designed for Middle America.



Eleven Minutes

Facts and Figures

Run time: 103 mins

In Theaters: Saturday 5th April 2008

Distributed by: Regent Releasing

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 61%
Fresh: 17 Rotten: 11

IMDB: 6.5 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Michael Selditch, Rob Tate

Producer: Michael Selditch, Rob Tate

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