Thursday, February 2, 2017

Thursday Movie Picks: Movies About Artists


Writers are not all that dissimilar to painters and other artists. We are all trying to create visuals. Of course, as a writer, you have to do it with words. Better writers paint better pictures. Getting the reader to see exactly what you want to see is an art, not a science. It may not even be an art, but witchcraft.

I'm babbling on because the topic for this week's Thursday Movie Picks, chosen by Wanderer at Wandering Through the Shelves, is artists...the kind who don't write. I've seen more than my fair share. I've seen a number of biopics about artists, but as I've been inclined to do lately, I'm going with some documentaries this week.


Exit Through the Gift Shop
(2010)
Thierry (pronounced Terry) is an amateur, but passionate, photographer obsessed with capturing the work of street artists as they create it. Through an odd series of events, Thierry himself becomes a successful and well-respected street artist. This puts him on a collision course with world famous and mysterious street artist, Banksy, whom Thierry wishes to make a documentary about. The twist to this is that Exit Through the Gift Shop is directed by Banksy. So yeah, this is a documentary about a guy trying to make a documentary about the guy who made the documentary. There are lots of interesting things going on, including some amazing and thought-provoking art. However, given the nature of Banksy, there is the question of whether any of this is real. There has been widespread debate over its legitimacy since its release. Click here for my full review.

Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry
(2012)
If you've never heard the name Ai Weiwei, you should have. He is known the world over as an artist and ardent defender of human rights. Most of his work, and fight, happens in his native China. The Chinese government is notorious for persecuting artists who dare speak out against them. True to form, Weiwei was detained in 2011. This documentary follows the artist for the two years leading up to this event. It is an amazing film about an amazing man who merely wants his people to be treated humanely by the powers that be. Click here for my full review.

Cutie and the Boxer
(2013)
Ushio Shinohara is a successful painter whose work has sold for decades. He has a rather unusual style. He hangs a giant canvas in his yard, drags out buckets and buckets of paint, puts on a pair of oversized boxing gloves, dips them in the paint, and commences to wailing on the canvas like he's fighting Apollo Creed. Paint goes flying everywhere, he's a mess, and by the time he's done he's got a commercially viable painting. However, the story is really only tangentially about him. It's more about his 40-year marriage to Noriko. To be honest, it's more about her and all the sacrifices she made. She is a talented artist in her own right, and decided not to pursue her art in order to support her husband, in any way, possible. We get to see plenty of art from both of them, and end up with a heartwarming doc, to boot.



30 comments:

  1. I've only seen Exit Through the Gift Shop which I do love but I didn't pick that one as I have no idea why. I went w/ more conventional choices... sort of....

    Still, it's a great film while I haven't seen the other 2 films which I'm still interested in seeing.

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    1. I really like both of the others, but for different reasons. The Ai Weiwei doc is, at times, infuriating because the government is just blatantly going after this guy solely on the grounds of him wanting them to treat its citizens better. Cutie and the Boxer is just a beautifully told story.

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  2. Exit Through the Gift Shop is quite playful and thought-provoking. Interesting to get a glimpse into the world of street art and graffiti artists, and how they create, think and operate. The line between art and vandalism definitely is hazy.

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    1. I'm in 100% agreement with this comment.

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  3. Love, love LOVE Cutie and the Boxer. I can't believe I STILL haven't seen Exit Through the Gift Shop.

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  4. Funny that the Artist isn't about an artist. Have you seen Turner?

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    1. I would argue The Artist is absolutely about an artist, just not one who paints. I have not seen Turner.

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    2. Oh yeah. I was just going by your film themes and using a more traditional visual version of art. Turner is one of my favourite painters but the film was so dull I had to stop after 25 minutes.

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  5. Oh dear I haven't seen any of these but then I'm not a huge doc watcher. I've heard of Exit Through the Gift Shop and thought about watching it but haven't gotten there yet. Never heard of either of the other two but the way the last guy creates his paintings reminded me of the Paul Newman vignette in What a Way to Go! where he plays an eccentric painter in Paris and one of his painter pals creates her pictures by filling balloons with paint and shooting at them with different guns!

    There isn't a super sufficiency of films about painters to choose from so this week proved something of a challenge. I came up with three that I don't necessarily love them but I at least thought they were decent.

    The Naked Maja (1958)-Tale of the renowned painter Francisco Goya (Anthony Franciosa) and his passionate affair with the Duchess of Alba (Ava Gardner) , purportedly the model for the title painting. Set against Spain’s war with France and the Inquisition, though shot in Italy, the film is a visual treat with a good performance by Gardner but missing a certain spark, perhaps due to the fact that the stars detested each other behind the scenes.

    Lust for Life (1956)-Biography of Vincent Van Gogh with an intense, driven performance by near lookalike Kirk Douglas as the tortured artist. Since he wasn’t acknowledged until after his death the film is a relentlessly grim look at the cost and weight of unrecognized genius. Overlong but loaded with works by the master.

    The Moon and Sixpence (1942)-Inspired by the life of Paul Gauguin and based on the Somerset Maugham novel, the film tells the story of Charles Strickland (George Sanders) who throws his staid life as a married stockbroker away to run away to the South Seas to paint with nary a thought to the consequences. Well-acted with a superior cast but the lead character is an almost completely despicable person so it’s difficult to care too much for his story or fate.

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    1. Balloons and guns, huh. Amazing what passes for art. To be honest, I didn't understand the big deal about the guy's art in Cutie and the Boxer. On the other hand, I really liked is wife's work. Still, the real draw of that film is there relationship.

      The only one of your picks I have even heard of is Lust for Life, which I do want to see.

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    2. The balloons and gun art is played for laughs as is the whole film. If you've never seen What a Way to Go! I highly recommend it, it's a goofy piece of fluff with Shirley MacLaine as a female Jonah who wants a simple life but she keeps falling in love with misfits and somehow keeps turning them into multi-millionaires until they meet their doom in some bizarre way. Her consecutive husbands are played by Dick Van Dyke, Paul Newman, Robert Mitchum, Gene Kelly and Dean Martin so you could say it's star-studded.

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    3. Got it, lol. That is quite the cast. I may have to check it out.

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  6. I haven't seen any but I love the title of the first one which makes me want to see it. Communism has always been horrible to artists whether they are painters, musicians or writers so I am not surprised that this man has been persecuted and it makes me want to see it all the more. The last film makes me not want to see his art but would love to see it because of their relationship.

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    1. I highly recommend all three. The relationship aspect of the last one really makes the film.

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  7. As usual, Wendell, I haven't watched any of these. But I love it knowing that you picked two Asian movies there. Certainly, I'm gonna look for them since I have resources to get them. Thanks for the recommendation!

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    1. I would love to hear your thoughts on these. Just an FYI, at least the last one is an American made doc, and both are pretty readily available here in the US.

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  8. I need to see Never Sorry, that sounds fascinating. We matched on Exit, and I remember hearing about Cutie and the Boxer but I never got around to seeing it.

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    1. Cutie and the Boxer is such a...cute...film. I think you will enjoy it.

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  9. I've see parts of Exit Through the Gift shop when I went to the small Banksy museum at Amsterdam. Worth checking if you find yourself in the Dutch capital.

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    1. I would love to go there. What I saw of his art in the movie was amazing.

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  10. Exit Through the Gift Shop sounds interesting

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    1. It is very interesting and highly entertaining.

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  11. I had to take a step back this week, I haven't seen a single movie about an artist! That said, Exit Through the Gift Shop sounds like a one, and I love that name!
    By the way, I've nominated you for a Sunshine Blogger Award :) https://oftenofftopic.wordpress.com/2017/02/05/move-over-la-la-land-i-have-2-award-nominations/

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    1. Not one? Wow. I think all three of these are fantastic. The others who participated made some great suggestions, too. Thanks so much for the award! I'll get on it!

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  12. Not seen these but they sound like excellent picks! Really want to see Cutie and the Boxer.

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    1. That one is s definitely the feel-good pick of this bunch.

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  13. Wendell, thanks for visiting. It's nice meeting you through TMP meme. I am not familiar with any of the documents. I'm not much for documentaries. :) I appreciated you giving a little over-view of each film. This is a class of films that doesn't motivate me to watch more, so it's hard one for me to get behind but I like being educated somewhat on various things. Interesting selection. Have a good day!

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    1. Great meeting you, too! Until a few years ago, I didn't watch many documentaries, either, so I understand where you're coming from. I hope you do check out at least one.

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