This is a love story from one artist to another. Sydney Pollack, who knew little about architecture except what he himself admired, was invited by his friend, the renowed architect Frank Gehry, to make a documentary about Gehry’s life and working methods. Pollack, one of the American cinema’s grandest forces, actor, producer and, most famously, director of such enduring classics as “They Shoot Horses Don’t They?”, “Tootsie”, “Out Of Africa” and “The Way We Were”, was persuaded. The result of this collaboration between two friends is very special: Gehry is naturally at ease in front of Pollack’s camera. Their rapport stems from deep mutual respect and the depth of insight culled from their experience as artists. Armed with a video camera, Pollack dips into the highlight of Gehry’s life, tracing his youth, his first marriage and his exponentially growing fame. Facing a creative block early in his career, Gehry ended up in the care of a psychiatrist, whom Pollack interviews and whose understanding of the creative mind unlocked Gehry’s imagination. Freed from his crisis, Gehry eventually created such magnificent structures as the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao and the Walt Disney Concert Hall In Los Angeles.
The film presents a very warm and observant working portrait of Gehry as he sits with trusted assistants and colleagues, painstakingly assembling models with scissors and cardboard until he achieves perfection. Pollack does a superb job capturing those moments when spontaneous ideas collide with practical concerns. This is an affectionate and sensitive film about a man who has dared to dream about buildings that transcend the rectilinear approach that defines so much of architecture. Above all, Gehry, modest energetic and inquisitive, reveals himself to be a consummately charming subject.
Sydney Pollack was born to first generation Russian-Jewish Americans on July 1, 1934. After graduating from his Indiana high school, he went to New York and became a student at the Neighborhood Playhouse, a celebrated Greenwich Village school, where he studied under Sanford Meisner. He served two years in the army before returning to the Neighborhood Playhouse in 1958 as a teacher, and began appearing as an actor in live television dramas. His appearance in a John Frankenheimer-directed television production led him to a job as dialogue coach in the filmmaker’s 1961 crime drama The Young Savages. He quickly moved into television, directing on programs such as “The Defenders,” “The Naked City,” “The Fugitive,” “Dr. Kildare,” and “Ben Casey” during the early and mid 1960s, and in 1965 made his feature film debut in the director’s chair with The Slender Thread.
Pollack established himself as a competent, if unexceptional, director in such works as This Property Is Condemned, and… read more