I’ve met Penn & Teller a couple times during my past work for Skeptic magazine, and must admit I thought they were jerks (and not all that smart)! But then I caught their magic show and was truly blown away by their craft and genius there. This film (directed by Teller) is also truly excellent. Fun, casual, and ends up very smartly exploring art vs the art of technology, as well as innovation through play.
I found the film to rather be an argument FOR Vermeer’s genius. The meticulousness of painting such intricate details... and it only takes a side by side comparison to see the difference between the artist and the inventor.But, nevertheless, the film is extremely entertaining and surprisingly profound. You see how the seemingly indifferent scientist gets absorbed into the obsession that is art!
The story of how Vermeer might not have been a painter, but somehow an ingenious inventor and nonetheless a great artist. Although a valid point of view, it feels like it diminishes the sensibility aroused by the concept of a "genius". Concept which, in my opinion, is a product of both literature and need for hyperbolising one's qualities to justify his art.
Those faulting the film's length or indulgent attention to process have perhaps never experienced the revelations and frustrations that arise from long hours hovering over a canvas. Every brush stroke, every mistake that is corrected or ignored, every blended pigment is a revealing choice that shapes the outcome. Both Vermeer's and Jenison's choices are inspired, which makes for riveting viewing.
A fascinating story trying to solve a mystery that can never be substantiated. Tim is a fascinating subject in that his perserverance through a job that must have been beyond mundane is admirable and somewhat awe inducing. The filmmaking leaves a lot to be desired and its brevity is in its favour. One of the more interesting films in its mini-genre of late and doesn't take away from Vermeer's genius.
There's something inherently fascinating about a non-artist attempting to discover and recreate the method behind Johannes Vermeer's strikingly photorealistic paintings, but Penn and Teller's new documentary, TIM'S VERMEER lacks the gravity to really pull it off. It focuses too much on the details of the experiment rather than the questions it raises about technology vs. art- questions that it raises all too casually