Penn & Teller’s acclaimed documentary, Tim’s Vermeer, is not the first look into Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer’s likely use of optics in his work but it’s certainly one of the most fascinating. Produced by Penn Jillette and directed by Teller, the film focuses on visionary inventor Tim Jenison’s meticulous research into how Vermeer was able to paint so photo-realistically 150 years before the invention of photography. Unlike most documentaries, they had no idea at the start how it would turn out. The most intriguing aspect is watching Tim’s attempt to prove his hypothesis by painstakingly recreating Vermeer’s The Music Lesson using only the tools and materials Vermeer would have had available in the 17th century.
In an exclusive interview, Jillette spoke about his longtime friendship with Tim, the unexpected way the project emerged, why Teller and he decided to make a movie about Tim’s investigation and finance it themselves, what makes their documentary so unusual, the decision to focus the film on Tim, the concept of genius and how the term is often misused, and why they like the fact that the film celebrates the idea of just doing something. Jillette also discussed his new horror movie, Director’s Cut, directed by Adam Rifkin. Check out the interview after the jump.
Penn & Teller’s fascinating documentary, Tim’s Vermeer, follows inventor and engineer Tim Jenison’s exhaustive and tenacious investigation into one of the art world’s most intriguing mysteries: how was 17th century Dutch Master Johannes Vermeer able to paint so photo-realistically more than a century before the invention of photography? Jenison, who was the visionary behind the desktop video revolution, embarks on an extraordinary research project spanning eight years that takes him around the world. Opening January 31st, the film directed by Teller and produced by Penn Jillette also features Martin Mull, Professor Philip Steadman, David Hockney and Dr. Colin Blakemore.
In an exclusive interview, Teller revealed why Tim’s story appealed so much to him, the unique challenges this documentary posed, why there was no way to know how it would turn out or if they would succeed in proving Tim’s hypothesis, the ingenious way he solved the film’s production logistics, how the project evolved from a Penn & Teller: Bullshit! episode to something much more, how Tim’s attempt to recreate The Music Lesson revealed Vermeer’s original technique in an intriguing new light, why artists are always fascinated with technology, Hockney’s involvement in the project, and Teller’s upcoming theatrical production of The Tempest in Las Vegas. Check out the interview after the jump.
Opening January 31st, Penn & Teller’s entertaining documentary, Tim’s Vermeer, centers on Tim Jenison, a Texas based inventor who attempts to solve one of the most intriguing mysteries in all art: how did the great 17th century Dutch artist, Johannes Vermeer, capture light in his paintings with such photographic quality 150 years before the invention of photography. Determined to find out, Jenison embarks on an epic research adventure that takes him to Delft, Holland where Vermeer painted his masterpieces, the North Coast of Yorkshire to visit artist David Hockney, and London to view Vermeer’s The Music Lesson in the Queen’s Collection at Buckingham Palace.
In an exclusive interview, Jenison talked about how the idea for the project first came to him, how a casual conversation with his longtime friend Penn sparked the idea for a film, why he loves the power of ideas and inventions and considers Vermeer a fellow geek, what happened when he realized the use of camera obscura alone was not sufficient to capture the range of color and tones that are the heart and soul of Vermeer’s paintings, how he duplicated Vermeer’s tools and materials to recreate The Music Lesson and test his theory, his excitement at sharing his findings with Hockney, and his plans to write a book. Read the full interview after the jump.
Penn and Teller‘s documentary Tim’s Vermeer made the fall festival rounds last year, and I’m sorry I missed it. It has a terrific premise: Inventor Tim Jenison attempts to recreate the photorealistic paintings of of Dutch Master Johannes Vermeer. Since Vermeer’s works predate the invention of the camera by 150 years, Jenison seeks to discover the painter’s secrets, and his revelation may just send shockwaves through the art history community. Today, we have a behind-the-scenes clip, and it has Jenison breaks down how he recreated the setting of one of Vermeer’s paintings. What Jenison explains is fascinating from the compromises he made, getting the angles right, and much more. It’s like a cross between Antiques Roadshow and a crime scene.
Hit the jump to check out the behind-the-scenes clip, and click here for the trailer. Tim’s Vermeer opens in limited release on Friday.
A New Year is now upon us, and with 2014 comes another full 12 months of new films to look forward to. It will no doubt be filled with its fair share of disappointments, but right now we’re full of optimism as we look towards the first quarter. The next three months host a promisingly varied slate of films that include a goofy animated adventure, a World War II picture, a new Muppets movie, a Biblical epic, and much more. In the latest installment of our Most Anticipated series, Matt, Adam, and Dave have compiled a list of the films that they are most looking forward to in the first quarter of 2014. Read on after the jump.
The Penn and Teller documentary, Tim’s Vermeer, has been buzzing about for a while now, but the film’s first trailer is finally here. The picture follows inventor Tim Jenison in his attempts to recreate the photorealistic paintings of of Dutch Master Johannes Vermeer. Since Vermeer’s works predate the invention of the camera by 150 years, Jenison sought about discovering the painter’s secrets; his revelation may just send shockwaves through the art history community.
Tim’s Vermeer is now playing in limited release. You can watch a clip from the movie here, and read Phil’s review from TIFF 2013. Hit the jump to watch the trailer.
The Academy’s rules for Best Documentary are so arbitrary and asinine that I always hold my breath when it comes to their shortlist. A list of final nominees is frustrating in any category, but it’s infuriating when a good film doesn’t even get a chance to compete. Thankfully, there are plenty of good choices among this year’s shortlist. The films eligible for a Best Documentary Oscar nomination include The Act of Killing (I’d be ballistic if this wasn’t in the running; my review), Cutie and the Boxer, God Loves Uganda, Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer, Stories We Tell (my review, although the movie didn’t hold up as well on a repeat viewing), and 20 Feet From Stardom (my review). If you have HBO GO, you can check out Pussy Riot along with other shortlisted docs The Crash Reel, First Cousin Once Removed, and Life According to Sam. As far as snubs go, I wish Casting By was in the running, but considering that it directly criticizes the Academy for not having an award for casting directors, I’m not surprised by its exclusion.
Hit the jump for the full shortlist. Nominations for the 86th Academy Awards will be announced on January 16th.
One of the most pleasant surprises of this year’s Toronto International Film Festival is Tim’s Vermeer. Made my legendary magicians and bullshit busters Penn & Teller the film is about the remarkable achievement of their friend Tim Jenison. A professional computer/optics expert and amateur inventor, Jenison became fascinated with the work of the great Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer whose ground-breakingly realistic work has confounded art critics and historians for centuries. Controversial recent theories have suggested that Vermeer used primitive camera lenses to essentially paint photographs and with a deep background in video technology, Jenison was not only qualified to see how that could be true, but also had a theory of how it was done.
Armed with the resources, dedication, eccentricity, and free time necessary to pull it off, Jenison dedicated a year of his life to proving the theory by recreating Vermeer’s studio, crafting a practical device Vermeer might have used to pull off the work, and meticulously recreated a classic painting using only tools and resources available in the 17th century. The only catch was that he’d never painted before, but with the invention he’d devised that didn’t matter. So Penn & Teller filmed the entire journey and presented the Tim’s journey in a manner as clever, funny, insightful, and moving as any of their finest work. Collider got a chance to chat with Penn, Teller, and Jenison at TIFF, delving into the making of their latest project, their underrated 1989 film Penn & Teller Get Killed, and, oddly, the relationship between Martin Mull and Jimi Hendrix. Hit the jump for the full chat.
Let’s take a look at some clips from the following films:
- Labor Day – Jason Reitman’s drama starring Kate Winslet, Josh Brolin, Tobey Maguire, James Van Der Beek and Clark Gregg, opening January 31, 2014.
- Tim’s Vermeer – Teller (of Penn & Teller) directs this documentary centering on inventor Tim Jenison’s quest to understand the painting techniques of Dutch Master Johannes Vermeer.
- The Face of Love - Arie Posin’s romantic drama starring Ed Harris, Annette Bening and Robin Williams.
Hit the jump to watch the clips.
Made by legendary bullshit busting magicians Penn & Teller, Tim’s Vermeer already looks like not just one of the best documentaries at TIFF this year, but possible one of the best films of the year, full stop. Like all of the best docs, it’s a unique story that would probably be unbelievable were it not factual. And like all Penn & Teller projects it’s flippantly funny, weirdly revealing, and always magical. You wouldn’t think that a movie about a computer genius with too much time on his hands recreating a Dutch master’s painting could be this entertaining, but you also wouldn’t think Penn & Teller would make a movie about it. So, I guess the whole thing is filled with surprises, isn’t it? Hit the jump for more.
The Telluride Film Festival gets under my skin. It’s incredibly expensive to attend, and you don’t know the line-up until the day before the festival begins. Its major advantage is that it’s become the place where awards films attempt to pick up a little steam. Telluride equivalent of a Preview Night. Rather than drop the films at the Toronto International Film Festival, they can start picking up some buzz from a smaller audience, which could potentially guide the much larger audience at the TIFF. Not all of the films are making debuts. Most notably, Cannes favorites Inside Llewyn Davis, Nebraska, and All Is Lost will be playing at Telluride, skipping TIFF, and then playing at the New York Film Festival. Gravity just had its premiere at Venice, but Telluride is now its North American debut. Other notable movies that will now be making their world premiere at Telluride are Jason Reitman‘s Labor Day, Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin, and Errol Morris‘ documentary The Unknown Known.
Hit the jump for the full line-up. The 2013 Telluride Film Festival runs from August 29 – September 2nd.
The latest TIFF 2013 line-up to be announced is what they have in store for documentaries. At the top of my must-see list are Errol Morris‘ Donald Rumsfeld documentary The Unknown Known and Frank Pavich‘s Jodorowsky’s Dune. Also, reading through the brief synopses, I’m going to try and make time for Beyond the Edge (a 3D doc about Everest climber Sir Edmund Hillary) and The Dog (the story that was used as the basis for Dog Day Afternoon). I’ll also be avoiding At Berkeley, which sounds just awful.
Hit the jump for the full documentary line-up. The 2013 Toronto International Film Festival runs from September 5 – 15th.