Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf's
⋆⋆ out of four stars
Rated: PG-13 for a brief sexual reference • Theater: Edina
Department stores have fallen on hard times, forced by price-conscious consumers into a race to the bottom. How has Bergdorf Goodman, that elegant Beaux-Arts dowager of Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue, managed to survive relatively unscathed, retaining its identity as pop culture’s go-to label for irreproachable status? This fawning documentary, bankrolled by Goodman descendant Andrew Malloy, never really answers that question, but it’s a fun peek inside the mystique for followers of fashion history. The film offers snapshot profiles of a handful of Bergdorf talents, including Betty Halbreich, inventor of the “personal shopper” concept. Halbreich — mother of former Walker Art Center director Kathy Halbreich — is a delight, with quips including “I don’t believe in hate. Dislike, yes, but not hate.” Part of the Bergdorf magic comes from the building, whose design was drawn on the back of a menu at the Plaza. Andrew Goodman and his wife lived on top of the store in a 16-room apartment. Couturiers worked in studios on-site; Elizabeth Taylor once came in and ordered 200 pairs of white-mink earmuffs to give as Christmas presents. The closing sequence is footage from a 1964 TV special in which young Barbra Streisand twirls through the store belting out a medley of poverty tunes including “I’ve Got Plenty of Nothing” and “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime” while trying on furs and hats. Director Matthew Miele was wise to downplay it, rolling the credits alongside, because in today’s socioeconomic climate, such irony would seem arrogantly gauche.
⋆⋆ out of four stars
Unrated: Some nude images. English dubbed version will screen matinees and early evening show. Original French version with English subtitles will screen the last show each day.
This French-Belgian fantasy is nice enough visually but hamstrung by a terminally weak script. In the world of an artist's unfinished canvas, painted figures form a society divided into three tiers. The fully realized Alldunns rule over the roughed-in Halfies and the skeletal Sketchies. While the top dogs revel in their privilege ("There is no shame in being superior, my friends," tuts their leader), an adventurous Alldunn and Halfie duo seek The Painter who left his project incomplete. The search for their absent creator takes them through a panorama of artists and styles, from Manet to Modigliani to Picasso. The fable is didactic and wearisome, a veritable workbook of teachable moments for parents of young children. It's a welcome break from the incessant stimulation of most summer fare, but lacks the subtlety, the art, that would draw in older viewers. It's a Halfie.