LAFF: The Devil Wears Prada

While the rest of the country braces for the onslaught of all things Superman, Westwood Village is playing host to the 2006 Los Angeles Film Festival through July 2, after years of the event being held in Hollywood. Offering forth more than 170 feature and short films, plus star-studded events like world premieres, special hosted tribute screenings and intimate coffee talks and poolside chats with various industry insiders, including A Scanner Darkly director Richard Linklater, LAFF truly has something for film fans of all stripes.

Anne Hathaway and Meryl Streep’s The Devil Wears Prada kicked off the festival last Thursday night, in advance of its nationwide theatrical bow from 20th Century Fox this coming Friday, June 30. Fox Searchlight's Little Miss Sunshine closes the festival, meanwhile, while Sony Pictures Classics' Quinceañera, releasing in August, also screens as a centerpiece selection.

In brief, Prada, based on Lauren Weisberger’s best-selling 2003 novel, is both the coming-of-age story of a top fashion magazine editor’s lowly second assistant (Hathaway) and a glorious, showcase reminder of the unparalleled talents of Streep. With her icy visage and matching snow queen coif, Streep cuts an effectively chilly figure as the eternally sour and entitlement-driven Miranda Priestly, but she also lends her enough humanity to help elevate the movie above mere boss-from-hell tomfoolery, and into an effective if glossy and decidedly estrogenized mentor-associate dramedy, a proxy portrait of powerful women and the unique price they must pay for their ambition. Men may not necessarily be predisposed to want to go see this movie, given its subject matter and lax treatment of male supporting characters, but erstwhile Princess Diaries star Hathaway acquits herself nicely and Streep helps make it much more than just worthwhile.

The festival is spread out at 11 Westwood venues, all within walking distance of each other (shuttles make getting around even easier), and spans both the globe and a vast spectrum of moviemaking in its selections, from intimate indies and “dark wave” guilty pleasures to big-budget studio fare. For those in the area, individual event and screening tickets are still available for purchase at, or by calling 1-866-FILM FEST. More to follow throughout the week…


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