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 Finding Vivian Maier 

What grade would you give this film?
A 100%  100%  [ 1 ]
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 Finding Vivian Maier 
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Let's Call It A Bromance
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Joined: Tue Aug 07, 2007 7:22 pm
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Post Finding Vivian Maier
Finding Vivian Maier

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A documentary on the late Vivian Maier, a nanny whose previously unknown cache of 100,000 photographs earned her a posthumous reputation as one the most accomplished street photographers.


Sun May 04, 2014 11:49 am
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Joined: Tue Feb 15, 2005 7:33 am
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Post Re: Finding Vivian Maier
I watched Finding Vivian Maier tonight: a rather fascinating documentary, one I recommend. The story begins when a Chicago-based historian purchases at auction a box overflowing with photographic negatives by an enigmatic French-American woman. It turns out she devoted most of her life to raising other people's children in the suburbs, and though a prolific artist, she almost never shared her photographs. The film functions first and foremost as a showcase for her photographs themselves, many of which are direct and haunting portraits of colorful individuals on the street in mid-20th-century urban America. (A bit in the vein of Diane Arbus.) It is also a type of detective story as people who knew her throughout her life are interviewed. They describe instability, volatility, extreme privacy, and potential mental illness, but also extensive travel and vast curiosity, resulting in an impartial biography as melancholy as it is tantalizing.

The film also raises broader questions, including the question of who defines art in the age of the Internet—the prestigious Museum of Modern Art is hesitant to embrace Vivian, but she and her unusual story are an instant online sensation—and also the importance of the audience in the overall artistic experience. Many of the interview participants are frustrated and mystified by the very concept of an entirely private artist, and they are desperate to find a motive other than personal edification, but who can say for sure?

A few critics have complained the film plays too much as a type of tasteful, but calculated advertisement for the Vivian Maier brand with the man who discovered her negatives, co-director John Maloof, delivering the sales pitch. I can partly understand this charge in retrospect (Maloof definitely does not shy from giving himself ample screen time and is most anxious to justify what is ultimately an unauthorized revelation, however rewarding), but it honestly never detracts from the involving and poignant experience in the moment. I give the film an A-.

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Tue May 20, 2014 11:39 pm
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