Monday, June 23, 2014

A wonderful obsession

I'm not talking here about any of my own intense pursuits; I'm referring to the obsessive interest of inventor Tim Jenison in how Vermeer created his amazing paintings. That interest, plus Jenison's friendship with magician Penn Jillette, led to the creation of the documentary, Tim's Vermeer, which Penn's partner, Teller, directed.  A group of us watched this 80-minute film the other night, and I highly recommend it. 

You don't need to be an art fanatic or historian to enjoy this movie, nor do you need to know anything about Vermeer or his work.  The story certainly revolves around Vermeer, but its heart is Jenison and his complete commitment to exploring his theory, a commitment that leads to five years of part-time (and sometimes full-time) work on the project. 

One of the facets of this film that I most enjoyed was that its ending simply did not matter.  Both we viewers and Jenison himself know from the start that Jenison cannot prove he is correct; the best he can do is to amass more evidence for his theories.  No one has been able to turn up any documents that prove--or disprove--that Vermeer worked as Jenison posits, so Jenison is doing all of this work, years of it, and incurring huge expenses, simply to demonstrate that Vermeer might have worked as he theorizes.  I found that commitment wonderful to behold.

Teller does a masterful job of making the movie compelling and managing its pacing so you are never bored.  Penn is a fun narrator, an obviously biased teller of the story of a friend--but one who makes the friend's case compellingly. 

Check out Tim's Vermeer, now available on DVD, Blu-Ray, Netflix, Amazon video, and probably other outlets. 


Rosanne said...

I saw something about this on the news awhile back. I'll check out the DVD. I was intrigued just from what I saw on the news. Thanks for the info.

Mark said...

It is a lovely film. I expect you'll quite like it.


Blog Archive