Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Frank van den Engel's Photo & Copyright by G.P. Fieret (2009) is an appreciative portrait of the Dutch photographer Gerard Petrus Fieret. 1960s-era archival footage shows an exuberant Fieret at work in The Hague, chasing around (and taking pictures of) young women. In interviews, museum specialists, collectors, former models, and even Fieret's landlady reflect on his life and legacy. Ironically, the art market valued Fieret's oeuvre more than anyone seemed to value his well-being. In the film, Fieret's physical decline is paralleled by the squalorous condition of his negatives and prints.
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
George Hickenlooper's Picture This: The Times of Peter Bogdanovich in Archer City, Texas (1991) was made at the time that Bogdanovich was shooting Texasville, his 1990 sequel to The Last Picture Show (1971). Archer City residents and Picture Show actors reflect on changes over the years, particularly the ups and downs in Bogdanovich's career. Hickenlooper's sensitive interviewing elicits an account of Bogdanovich's years-ago romance with Cybill Shepard and messy breakup with his then wife Polly Platt (bottom still); all three discuss it frankly and dispassionately.
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
Eric Bricker's Visual Acoustics: The Modernism of Julius Shulman (2008) celebrates the career of the Los Angeles photographer, who died in 2009 at age 98. The film is a love song to Southern California architectural modernism exemplified by Rudolph Schindler, Richard Neutra, and John Lautner. Bricker lavishes deserved attention on Shulman's photographs of Pierre Koenig's Case Study House No. 22 (1960) and Richard Neutra's 1946 Kaufmann Desert House (top two stills). Third and fourth stills: Shulman documents Frank Gehry's Walt Disney Concert Hall (2003) with a view camera and assistant. Shulman memorably says that the camera is the least important piece of equipment for a photographer, which rings true when you see all the prosaic photographs of the same buildings.
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
A YouTube user, "whitelightbringer," posted a six minute video of the Toowoomba Flood on January 10, 2011. Camcorder or cellphone videographers learning to put together a short documentary can take note of a basic storytelling structure that gives heft to this handheld eyewitness account of a natural disaster: the flood video has a beginning, middle, and end. Top still: a rapidly rising creek is still within its banks. Second still: a succession of cars is swept away as the creek becomes a torrent. The third still provides suspense: can the man with the flimsy umbrella move his car in time? The end of the video shows the jumble of cars after the water has receded (bottom still). If you hadn't seen the first images of the water contained in the creek, the flooded creek wouldn't have been as meaningful. Visuals tell the story without talking heads or extra information.