Lionsgate // 2009 // 90 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Franck Tabouring (Retired) // March 3rd, 2010
If fashion is a religion, this is the bible.
R.J. Cutler's The September Issue is a spectacular documentary that will instantly capture your full attention and pull you deep into a hectic world ruled by glitz, glamour, tons of clothes and lots of big egos. I'm someone who really couldn't care less about the fashion industry, but this film is one of the best I've ever seen in this particular genre.
Following around Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief of Vogue, Cutler's film shows viewers what exactly goes down at the fashion bible's headquarters just weeks before the popular magazine puts out its massive September issue. Wintour and her team of skilled fashion experts and journalists spend an enormous amount of time and energy on this one issue, and Cutler and his crew made sure they're there to capture all the emotions, chaotic problems and hard work that go into publishing the one issue fashion fans can't live without.
Did I already mention this is a fantastic documentary? No, seriously, The September Issue has all it takes to entertain viewers to the fullest extent, and one of its advantages is the compelling main subject, Anna Wintour. Cutler's portrait of one of the most influential women in the fashion world is a real treat, and watching her going about her business is both inspiring and impressive. Wintour isn't exactly the devil that wears Prada, but she does have the necessary attitude to succeed in her business. She's a fierce magazine editor for sure, and she never blows any smoke about anything related to her work. Cutler couldn't have captured her on film any better than he did.
What you should know though is that this is not a documentary about the life of Wintour. It does touch on her past and career, but the main focus stays on the September issue, which involves the work of many Vogue employees. One of Anna's close working partners is the talented Grace Coddington, the mag's creative director, who takes care of many of the issue's big photo shoots. Anna and Grace have been working together for years, but what'll you get to observe in this film is a professional relationship that's not always as easy and harmonic as you think. Grace and Anna often clash when it comes to approving shots, and watching them both deal with this turns out to be as fascinating as it is hilarious.
Yes, Cutler's film is highly enjoyable. It's a light, fast-paced documentary that doesn't waste any time, and it's as flashy and amusing as the colorful world it closely examines. Interviews with Vogue employers and a ton of footage from photo shoots and meetings with designers are just some of the things you get to experience in The September Issue; a film that also boasts a superb cinematography, excellent editing and a soundtrack that perfectly fits the visuals. It's a film that accentuates how much knowledge and experience is required to bring out a special issue of Vogue, and it shows viewers that Anna Wintour is not only a big-time editor, but also a person with major influence on what direction the fashion world is heading into.
The two-disc DVD edition of The September Issue boasts a clean 1.78:1 widescreen presentation, and picture quality delivers the goods in terms of sharpness. A film about fashion obviously needs to look appealing, and this one certainly does. For a documentary of this kind, the audio transfer works perfectly as well. Technical credits are top-notch, for sure.
For those who have seen the film and couldn't get enough, this DVD is a definite must. The first disc includes an excellent audio commentary with J.R. Cutler, who explains in detail how he got to make the film and what it was like shooting a documentary on Anna Wintour at Vogue. Cutler keeps it interesting throughout, and anybody interested in how documentaries work in general should definitely listen in. Also included on this first disc are some deleted scenes and a behind-the-scenes photo gallery. The second disc features more than 90 minutes of interesting deleted scenes focusing on Anna, Grace and other folks we get to see in the film. Also included is the issue's complete cover shoot with Sienna Miller in Rome.
I could rave about The September Issue for days, but why not keep it short and urge you to check it out. If you haven't seen this one yet, I promise you will be pleasantly surprised. If you've seen it already, this DVD will look great in your collection. Addicting and fabulous, Cutler's film is undoubtedly one of the best documentaries of the past decade. Fashionista or not, this one deserves to be seen by everybody.
Glamorous, but not guilty.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
* Deleted Scenes
* Photo Gallery