Sunday, January 15, 2017

Now on Netflix: Casablancas: The Man Who Loved Women (2016)

Casablancas: The Man Who Loved Women (2016) - Directed by Hubert Woronieki

By Kenny Howell

In 2011, John Casablancas, the founder of Elite Modeling Agency, sat down with a friend to record his life story. He would pass away two years later after battling cancer.

Those recordings give nearly all the content to this documentary about his life, which uses archival footage and pictures along with is narration to tell the story of the man that changed the modeling industry and became a world power.

Casablancas, who is the father to The Strokes lead singer Julian Casablancas, was convinced by someone in the industry that he should be a modeling agent. But that wasn't enough for him, as he decided to take on the giants of the industry like Ford Modeling Agency, and start is own company. That was unheard of at the time, for a heterosexual male to be a leader in the fashion industry.

He rocketed to stardom by poaching some talent from the bigger agencies and establishing his own. He represented people like Christie Brinkley, Stephanie Seymour, Cindy Crawford, and just about every big name at the time. He had the idea to turn the models into celebrities, making them household names so as to increase their value. It revolutionized the industry and set off a nasty war between the agencies.

I think Casablancas: The Man Who Loved Women, works best if you don't know much about it because it is a fairly straight forward approach. There is a bit of animation to fill in some gaps, which does seem a bit out of place and doesn't totally work, but for the most part it is Casablancas voice over pictures and archival footage. There probably is another side to this story that may be a bit more nuanced, but it doesn't pretend is not an autobiography. I am a sucker for a story about someone who changes an industry, and the battle between the agencies is pretty intriguing. It's not as life-changing as its subject, but it worthwhile nonetheless.

Casablancas: The Man Who Loved Women is now streaming on Netflix.

Rating: ***

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