You’d think a documentary called “About Face: Supermodels, Then and Now” (8 p.m., HBO) might be superficial. But this surprisingly entertaining and provocative film tackles the subjects of aging, beauty, racism and gender while revisiting some of the most famous faces of the past 70 years.
The film opens with an extended profile of Carmen Dell’Orefice, famous for being the world’s oldest working model. She’s been a fashion model since the late 1940s and first made the cover of Vogue magazine when she was 15. After turning 80 last year, she appeared in fashion shows for spring and summer 2012 collections. She doesn’t mind being a part of fashion and modeling history and is old enough to remember when most “proper” people considered models to be little more than prostitutes.
The film interviews models as diverse as Jerry Hall, the daughter of a Texas truck-driver, and Marisa Berenson, whose grandmother, fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli, fumed when she became a mere model.
No conversation about aging and beauty is complete without mentioning plastic surgery and the decision to have “work” done. Dell’Orefice likens the procedures to having a fallen ceiling repaired. Isabella Rossellini scoffs at surgery as submission to male misogyny. Paulina Porizkova dismisses surgery as ridiculous, theorizing that youthful beauty is necessary to attract “fertile young men,” something she’s no longer in the market for. She also observes that there is nothing so attractive in a woman as confidence, and nothing indicates a lack of confidence more than Botox.
• With three episodes of “The Closer” (8 p.m., TNT) left, Brenda continues to find plenty of ways to explain a sudden exit from the force. Tonight she tangles with a higher power when church officials get in the way of investigating a priest’s murder. And it doesn’t help when her brash manner disrespects Pope (J.K. Simmons).
Tonight’s other highlights
• Tonight’s scheduled events at the 2012 Summer Olympics (7 p.m., NBC) include swimming, diving, gymnastics and beach volleyball.
• Michelle suspects a thief in the troupe on “Bunheads” (8 p.m., ABC Family).