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Image Entertainment presents
Models (1998)

"I snort during the week, I snort during the shoot, I snort during classes. Constantly, you know?"
- Lisa (Lisa Grossmann)

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: January 05, 2005

Stars: Vivian Bartsch, Tanja Petrovsky, Lisa Grossmann, Elvyra Geyer
Other Stars: Werner Hotzy
Director: Ulrich Seidl

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (language, nudity, mature themes)
Run Time: 01h:57m:45s
Release Date: December 14, 2004
UPC: 014381277227
Genre: foreign

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
C- D-C+B- D

DVD Review

It has been said that Austrian director Ulrich Seidl has his own way of capturing humanity in very personal doses, but his films (most recently the documentary Jesus, Du weisst) are of the art school variety, and are often voyeuristic fly-on-the-wall experiences that pile on the mundane in great excess. As a documentary filmmaker, Seidl has earned comparisons to Luis Buñuel and Werner Herzog, and with Models, he points his unmoving camera at a trio of aspiring blondes, each with their own emotional baggage, and simply spends his time drifting back and forth to show us their lives.

Seidl wrote and directed Models, which has been assembled to resemble a documentary, and his long, static shots give the effect of seeing things through a hidden camera. Combine that with meandering conversational dialogue and Seidl falls hard into what I call the "this is so real it's boring" school of filmmaking, and he falls so hard into this deep crevasse that I often considered jabbing my eyes with long spikes in order to bring about a sensation of some kind at all.

I didn't care about the characters here, which made being dragged through their vacuous modeling lives even less of a thrill ride. I was moderately intrigued by Lisa (Lisa Grossmann) and her plethora of plastic surgeries and coke addictions (alright, so she showered a couple of times to show off her new implants), but the hip yoga/fortune-teller ramblings of Tanya (Tanja Petrovsky) or the ruthless career drive of Vivian (Vivian Bartsch) were long-winded, hollow and aggravatingly boring.

Arthouse aficionados will likely argue that I just "don't get it", which is fine, I suppose. Because I'll admit that in this case I don't. I can easily float into the art realm when I need to, because I'm open enough to allow a filmmaker to reach inside me if the whole experience flows the right way. It just doesn't here. Models drags itself along a long, slow track, taking an obscenely long time to reach whatever point Seidl was trying to convey.

For me, this is dull introspective stuff disguised as art, part documentary/part scripted film, and completely lacking in a pulse required to give it life. Plus, the backcover erroneously states this runs 58 minutes, which may have been acceptable, but in reality this runs just short of two hours.

I don't know art, but I know what I like, and this isn't it.

Rating for Style: C-
Rating for Substance: D-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.78:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Image has issued Models in a slightly grainy nonanamorphic 1.78:1 widescreen transfer, and it is a fairly lifeless and drab rendering of a fairly lifeless and drab film. Colors are extremely muted, and while I suppose that lends some authenticity to Seidl's pseudo-documentary approach, it fails to add anything visually. Black levels are weak, resulting in some very shadowy and dark sequences that only made enduring this all the more difficult.

Image Transfer Grade: C+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Germanno

Audio Transfer Review: Audio is provided in a German language 2.0 mono track, and while I can't vouch for its ability to provide understandable dialogue, I wasn't aware of any major sound blemishes, clipping or dropouts.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
Cast and Crew Filmographies
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Extras consist of optional English subtitles, 12 chapter stops and a quick bio/filmography of Ulrich Seidl.

Extras Grade: D


Final Comments

There was an episode of The Simpsons where Homer was watching Garrison Keillor on television, and he kept slapping the sides of the set demanding that it be funnier. I had the same experience here, only I wasn't expecting funny, but I would have settled for remotely tolerable.


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