Sketches of Frank Gehry
Autumn 2006 Documentary series
Wednesday, September 27, 2006 at 7:00pm
Directed by Sydney Pollack
Starring Frank O. Gehry, Philip Johnson, Sir Bob Geldof, Barry Diller, Michael Eisner, Dennis Hopper
Rated NR ·
Academy Award-winning director Sydney Pollack takes a sharp sideways turn with Sketches of Frank Gehry, a documentary about the noted architect. Usually known for elaborate productions such as The Firm and Out of Africa, Pollock adds a genuine curio to his collected works with this film.
Although the two men have been friends for years, Pollack thankfully bypasses the opportunity to pay a fawning tribute to Gehry, instead presenting a well-balanced portrait that offers both positive and negative commentators the chance to etch their thoughts into celluloid. But it quickly becomes clear that the biggest naysayer of all is Gehry himself, who is painted as a highly self-critical man, clearly ill-at-ease with fame and his own achievements. Pollack offers some screen time to Gehry’s magnificent creations, but not as much as a less experienced director might have done, instead choosing to focus on the man himself.
People such as Gehry’s therapist, Milton Wexler, and garrulous artist/director Julian Schnabel (Basquiat) offer their thoughts, but the real magic occurs when Pollack and Gehry are on screen together. The series of interviews between the two men have the kind of relaxed atmosphere that could only exist after years of friendship, and Gehry comes across as an astonishingly normal and likeable fellow who keeps his ego firmly in check. Shooting mostly with hand-held digital-video cameras also brings an intimacy to the proceedings, creating a warm testimony to a great artist who has somehow managed to keep his integrity intact despite the ruthless nature of the industry in which he works.