Sunday, May 11, 2014

Finding Vivian Maier And Finding The Film Unfair

I met my finacee yesterday at her work. I picked up a box of See's Candy and lunch from the Chicken Barn for her.

We went to the library to load up on books and then off to the beautiful State Theater

To see Finding Vivian Maier. I only knew that it was about a man who discovered a huge lot of artful photographs and set about giving the woman who shot them some recognition.

I thought, as V is a photographer at heart, she might like the theme. There are many reasons to like this film, and V did in fact like it a bit more than I. I am very glad I saw it though as it is the first movie I have seen in a bit that is worthy of discussion.

Vivian Maier was a nanny who took photographs all the time (She had hundreds of thousands of them found at the time of her death.). She took her wards to ever part of the city and snapped pictures of what she saw. The pictures are often beautiful. The way her camera was placed allowed her to shot up and get pictures where her subjects had real stature.

She took photos worthy of gallery attention and the man who bought her collection of photos is working on getting them a place of importance in the art world.

The first half of the movie is a lovely piece of propaganda.
It shows how Maier's photograph negatives were found. It shows what the finder did to try to get them seen and it shows many, many photographs.

The second half, though, is troubling. This is where we start getting into dark territory.

Maier did not actively seek fame or recognition. She was an obsessive photographer who, for the most part, seemed interested in taking the pictures merely for the act itself.

I did not need to know that she possibly abused some of the girls that were under her care.

A few moments, like the children having to wait for hours while she set up a shoot with mannequins or her ward who got hit by a car and how she stood there taking pictures, seem useful to the plot because they reflect the importance of her craft.

However, there are too many moments of unkindness. Since Maier did not seek fame, we do not need to know that she was downright violent about keeping newspapers or anything else negative that she might have excised or would not have happened if she had been as known as Man Ray at the time.

Still, the film is well directed and the scenes meant to be seen as troubling are very ominious.Plus the passion the director feels for the photos and the importance and thematic nature of Maier's work comes through.

If this film were more about the art and less about the artist, I would be raving. As it stands, I can still recommend seeing it, as it is interesting and well done.