"Eleven Minutes" Review

Monday, April 07, 2008 by

Darlings, we promise we'll shut up about Jay for a while after this, but after seeing the movie this weekend, we felt we HAD to write about it.

In short, we loved it.

Now, the longer version. It's a little difficult to look at a documentary with anything approaching objectivity when you both know, and are fans of, the subject. If you're a fan of Jay McCarroll, you'll love this movie and if you're someone who can't stand him, you'll probably love this movie too. This is pure Jay, laid out with no filters, and the result is a fairly gripping film.

If you're a fan of Project Runway and have little real knowledge of or exposure to the inner workings of the fashion industry - especially the lower rungs of it - this film is going to come as something of a shock to you. Project Runway is a fantasy that calls itself reality; Eleven Minutes is the reality of working in a fantasy world. It's dirty, it's crazy, it's filled with characters, some who are colorful, some who are creative, and some who are just plain assholes. And in the middle of this maelstrom is Jay, trying to figure out who he is as a designer, as a media figure, as a commodity, and even as a person. You could say that this film is about the fashion industry and that's true, but the larger truth is that this is a film about that universal theme of struggling to succeed in a playing field seemingly designed to do everything it can to prevent success. The little fashion engine that could.

Because of that, you couldn't have as the main subject a better figure than Jay himself. Insanely witty and funny (and the film is loaded with genuine laugh-out-loud moments), he's also capable of that one thing that all good documentaries need at their center: putting himself out there, warts and all. You'll laugh with him and you'll root for him and you'll feel for him when the chips are down, but you'll also shake your head in exasperation when he makes mistakes or makes life difficult for the people around him.

The film is beautifully shot and edited. There are rapid fire conversational scenes where the filmmakers basically took out any pauses between speakers and the result is a frenetic, dizzying scene that fairly forces you to lean forward in your seat to keep up with it and raises the tension levels. The runway show at the end is so beautifully shot and edited that we weep at how poorly Project Runway does the same thing. The one thing we had a problem with was how the filmmakers chose to end the film. Without giving anything away, it lacked the emotional punch that such a buildup required.

As we said, even if you're not a fan of Jay McCarroll or not a fan of fashion in general, you'll still enjoy this film. Because it's not about Jay or fashion; it's about the struggle to create and the struggle to survive and it succeeds beautifully in depicting these things.

And on that note, if you ARE a fan of Jay and WANT him to survive, check out his new site with fabulous product here.

[Photo: Courtesy of jaymccarrolldocumentary.com]


Anonymous said...

Oooh first up...

I had written my opinion about the film in the interview thread but basically I agreed with most everything you wrote. I thought though the ending was necessary though since it summs up part of the struggle and sums of Jay with his good and bad points.

Jay is a very polarizing figure. You empathize and get exasperated with him both. You love his talent and his snaek but scream at his mistakes. I was lucky enough to screen this film for our upcoming film fest in austin and hope it will make the cut. I plann on pushing it hard for it to make it


thombeau said...

Wow. Sounds awesome! And I am not Jay's biggest fan. Thanks for the review!

Anonymous said...

Huh. http://www.jaymaccarroll.com leads to some un-page-y thing. I wonder if he even owns the site anymore... .

Instead, we get the always fun and easy to remember as his site.

I bought the Spare Me Bowling Ball bag a few months ago. It's very nice, pretty well-made and it looks great if you have to schlepp your gym/lunch crap to work in a professional environment or take off for a weekend somewhere.

I just wish he'd branch out from t-shirts and tote bags. I'd *so* buy his clothes (if they were in my size).

ToddNY said...

Thank you for the review, kittens! I can't wait to see it. It better come to NY : )

Casey said...

Beautifully written review, TLo. Makes we want to see the film even more.

Anonymous said...

Oh I forgot to mention THANK YOU for making the comparison to how ROB and Micheal filmed the runway show and how it's done on PR. I've gotten pretty pissed at how bad the editing has become on the runways of the finales

also I meant to write "snark" not "snaek" above


PDarr said...

I really liked the movie. I had no idea how difficult the fashion industry is.

FashionFanatic said...

"Project Runway is a fantasy that calls itself reality; Eleven Minutes is the reality of working in a fantasy world."

Beautifully said and superbly written.

Anonymous said...

Dear TLo,

I read your Friday piece and this one and just have to say, your journalistic abilities are getting stronger and stronger. It's a pleasure (how much so I cannot begin even to convey) to read GOOD writing and trenchant analysis

Many sincere thanks, or as we say in Kiswahili, asante sana!

All the best,


Bill said...

Sounds great, Boys. Thanks for the review. Hope it makes it to the "art" house movie theater in our area.

Kathy said...

I would love to see this, either (as Bill said) in an art-house theater, or even on DVD. It sounds really interesting. Thanks for the review!
too bad it doesn't fit into Musical Mondays!

Lilithcat said...

"fabulous product"??

What, t-shirts and tote bags with colored circles? That's "fabulous product"?

edina monsoon said...

Doggone it. fashionfanatic beat me to it, but it's so worthy of being posted & quoted again ---

"Project Runway is a fantasy that calls itself reality; Eleven Minutes is the reality of working in a fantasy world."

You guys are good. TLO, your review read like poetry. And no truer words have been written about "the industry" and the media's depiction of it. Your writing style is amazing and seems to get better and stronger all the time. What a great write-up of a great little film. Like others have said, I truly hope Eleven Minutes makes it to art-house theaters because there's definitely an audience out there who will fall in love. And you're right, it's not all about Jay. It's about the creativity, the artistic process, survival and the human spirit.

I, too, did not love the somewhat abrupt ending. It seemed to lack closure. But, then again, I didn't want it to end at all. But, looking on the bright side, perhaps this can give us a little hope that there will be a third feature to complete the trilogy.

Anyway, looooved finally meeting you both in person (much better than seeing you from a speeding vehicle at 6th & Spruce!). You're as lovely & charming as I'd imagined. And don't get me started on having met Jay...I'm still caught up in the spell of the evening! Thanks again for spending time and having photos taken with your adoring public.

edina monsoon
aka cathy

Anonymous said...

Who is this Jay?

KlausK said...

"Anonymous said...

Who is this Jay?"

LOL. You've got to love the Internet.

Great review, guys. I can't wait to see it.

VeganD said...

Excellent and accurate review! The film was fantastic and the entire evening was a dream come true! Loved meeting you guys, and loved meeting Jay. Such a great, friendly down-to-earth guy! And you guys are just so warm and friendly in person! Thanks for chatting with a group of fans afterwards!

Hey, Edina (aka Cathy), it was great meeting you and Allie too!


honesty.not.pc said...

I loved the interview and the review boys (and I DO love me some Jay) but the "fabulous products" are not very fabulous.

While the circle motiff is nice (I loved it on his runway shows) it looks pretty bad on a oversized undershirt. Lets get some stucture in those shirts. They are like the concert T's you get that are always made for men and so unflattering on me that I just end up wearing them as nightshirts.

Also, tote bags are great for schlepping groceries (bring you own bags people!) but decidedly un-fabulous. The bowling bag is getting there...

Where are the real Jay clothes that I would risk my husbands financial wrath to buy?????

GothamTomato said...

Great review!

Lurve this quote: "Project Runway is a fantasy that calls itself reality; Eleven Minutes is the reality of working in a fantasy world."

But you left out the most important thing: When is it coming to New York??!!??


Anonymous said...

I checked Websters online dictionary and "lurve" is not a word.

Lilithcat said...

Thread digression -

What do you guys hear about this news?

Anonymous said...

I just read that NYT story Lillithcat links to.


This caught my eye:

"The show is scheduled to start on Lifetime in November, Ms. Wong said — though it will have to squeeze in one more cycle on Bravo before that."

What the hell?

-- desertwind

Milla said...

You REALLY made me want to see it..
Is it playing anywhere in Diego or LALA?
I bet the Ken here rignt down the block could stage a FABULOUS event to host it...
They could even bring Jay and have a Fashion show or something to raise funds for the Mama's Kitchen ( *hint* *hint* *hint*).
Mama's Kitchen is the local HIV/AIDS pantry here in Diego providing meals and food and assistance for people living with HIV/AIDS.
It is my charity of choix ;-)

Lilithcat said...

Desertwind -

Check out the full press release in Mo Ryan's column. "We welcome The Weinstein Company, Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn to the Lifetime family. . ."

Something's missing. There is NO mention of Michael Kors or Nina Garcia. Curiouser and curiouser . . .

Anonymous said...


what the hell is this about!!!???!!!

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

it wont let me post but this is the link that follows the slash after the 04


Anonymous said...

NBC is so stupid. They should've moved the show to primetime.

-- desertwind

PS - I hope this means Tim got a raise.

PPS - Weinstein has got a VERY prominent lawyer on their side.

PPPS - How odd for Bravo to be pushing Season 5, knowing that that's the end of the line for them.

PPPPS - Does anyone watch Lifetime?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

I checked Websters online dictionary and "lurve" is not a word.

Did you check under asshole?

Lenora said...

I'd like to join Milla in requesting a showing in, as she calls it "Diego". The Ken would work or Landmark. Maybe the San Diego Film Festival (I work with them) could sponsor a showing.

I do agree with the folks who mention that the clothes are not fabulous. We aren't expecting couture but something beyond basic t-shirts wouldm be nice.

chicksinger said...

[trying to wait patiently for TLo to post about the jumping of the shark to Lifetime before commenting]

Boy, that Jay McCarroll doc looks like fun! Can't wait till it makes it to Netflix (cause who am I kidding -- I didn't even make it out to see "Sweeney Todd" in the movie theaters).

tehkou said...

This just sounds lovely and fascinating. You guys are becoming a couple of gay Roger Eberts. (And I mean that in the best possible way!)

As others have suggested, I hope you will keep us informed of where the film will be playing around the country.

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful, insightful review, that makes me recall what is just so great about this site and you two.

k said...

Oh. Yuk. Lifetime.

GothamTomato said...

"Anonymous said...
I checked Websters online dictionary and "lurve" is not a word."

And anonymous is not a person.


Fud said...

Like you, I've followed Jay's career and find him to be incredibly engaging, original and as sharp witted as they come. So I expected to like the film going in. Let me tell you, I was blown away ! This was one well paced film. By the time we got to the runway my heart was pounding !They captured the process and mood perfectly. My hats off to anyone willing to put themselves out there creatively. The film and fashion industries, in particular, can be such massive, corporate greed machines. I've seen some truly talented people get eaten alive. I wholeheartedly encourage everyone to see this and really wish them success. I think Jay will do well for himself no matter what but I truly hope we'll be able to see him in his next incarnation as a recognized fashion designer. Did I mention how FABULOUS those clothes were ? LOVED, LOVED, LOVED. Very strong point of view, Very Jay.

PS Were you there last night TLo ? I'm kicking myself for not having sought you out to say hello. Oh well, maybe I'll see you round the city. Thanks for a great write up and interview.

Eileen in Fairmount