Saturday, May 10, 2014

Discovering a New Artist

I went to see the documentary Finding Vivian Maier just because I like documentaries and I wanted to check out a remodel of the theater, Cinema 21 in Portland. I'm not a photographer, so I had no pre-conceived ideas about Vivian Maier. The documentary was created after someone in Chicago bought some negatives shot by Vivian, and when he developed some and posted them to the internet, discovered she was an amazing photographer who would shoot images of people on the streets of Chicago.

The photographs in the documentary are so amazing I would find myself gasping out some one or two word response aloud, something I have never done in a movie theater. Her ability to capture a truth(s) about the people she came across amazed me.

As the documentary continued, it came out that she was a hoarder. Both my parents were hoarders, so the film resonated with me on another level. (My mother had 4x8 foot sheets of plywood in her living room to better be able to stack bags of newspapers and magazines to save articles she thought could be read latter. When she passed away, I found an old, greasy mess of the hood of a stove buried in the middle of the pile).

Then it came out that Vivian, who worked her entire life as a nanny, abused at least one of her charges, a young girl, choking her to make her swallow food. In my day, as long as parents didn't put a kid in the hospital, discipline was anything a parent thought appropriate. My mother would whip me with a razor strap (a thick piece of leather). My neighborhood pals mostly came from better off families, so when they had something coming, they usually got it from a leather belt. I always thought of that as a kind of status symbol.

So the documentary hit me on a number of different levels, and I would put it in the top ten of all the films I've seen in my life in terms of the impact it had on me.

Anyone with an interest with photography should see this documentary, the images are that amazing.


To read some of my longer reviews of popular movies, check out my writing workbook, A Story is a Promise, available on Amazon's Kindle and Barnes and Noble's Nook.