On The Shore On The shore — 01 March 2014
From video room: Great films about great art

Tim’s Vermeer explores a scientist’s fascination for the near-photo realism in the Dutch master’s work – 150 years before photography was invented. It’s directed by Teller, the shorter one in the illusionist duo, Penn & Teller. Now that the film is in theaters, there’s no better time to draw up a list of memorable films about painters to catch on your dvd or streaming devices:

In F is for Fake, Orson Welles weaves his way through art, forgery and art’s illusions in his final directing stint. This marvelous free-form documentary takes a look at a real-life “faker” who made a living forging Picassos; Welles’ own deceptions in art (War of the Worlds); and notorious hoax biographer of Howard Hughes, Clifford Irving.

For those who can’t get enough of Scarlett Johansson, she portrays a young housemaid who went on to become the life-long muse for Vermeer in a 2003 film by Peter Webber. At least that’s the story in Girl with a Pearl Earring, which takes its title from the artist’s celebrated painting. Based on a novel that conjured up this premise (little is known about Vermeer’s private life, historians say), it is subdued but substantial. Colin Firth (The King’s Speech) plays the Dutch painter.

Vincent & Theo is director Robert Altman’s intense and moody examination of the relationship of Vincent van Gogh and his brother Theo, an art dealer who spent his life in an exasperating, unsuccessful effort to sell his brother’s work. Scenes such as one shot in a field of sunflowers are works of high art in themselves.

And then there is Frida, Julie Taymor’s movie about surrealist artist Frida Kahlo and her off-and-on relationship with Mexican muralist Diego Rivera. Passionate portrayals by Salma Hayek as Kahlo and Alfred Molina as Rivera play out in a series of tempestuous and amorous episodes. The movie is less about technique than life, which is just as colorful in other ways.

John Dolen


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