06th Dec2014

Hockney – Film

by timbaros

Hockney426x317_586f5a66dbb77510ed9cb21a1762924bDavid Hockney is considered to be one of the most significant artists of our generation. He’s been creating art since the 1960’s and, believe it or not, he is still at it today. His life is explored in the new documentary Hockney, to be released on November 28th.

Hockney was born in Bradford, UK in 1937. He graduated from the Bradford School of Art in 1957 and then studied at the Royal College of Art from 1959 – 1962. He was instrumental in the founding of the British Pop Are movement. In the documentary, Hockney gives complete access of his life – his personal archive of photographs, paintings, and films – with family members and close personal friends speaking about him as well.

Hockney’s art is very visual, very abstract, and he has been able to transcend the changes in the art world for over half a century. He’s been a success, but throughout his life he has struggled with his art, relationships, and the tragedy of AIDS.

16 - C.D.-056

Hockney was brought up in the time of austerity, and his first memories are of him hiding under the stairs during the WWII air raids. When he was young, his father told him ‘not to worry too much what the neighbors think’ and this might’ve set the tone for his art. He also loved going to the cinema – Hockney mentions in the documentary that painting and cinema have a much closer relationship than people realise. Hockney’s first time out of the UK was when he set off to New York City – where he had $350 to last him for two months. We are shown quite a few scenes of modern New York City which seem irrelevant to the era in which Hockney arrived. In 1964 he moved to Los Angeles and it was his time there where he produced his most memorable art – images of swimming pools and the people in them. His art was also very blatantly gay as Hockney was not shy about painting art that basically reflected his life.

But Hockey the documentary doesn’t show us his life story in chronological order. It goes back and forth between showing home videos of him with friends, present day Hockney musing on his life, friends from the yesteryear reminiscing about pivotal events in Hockney’s life, his sister Margaret discussing the time when they were children, and near the end of the documentary there is a three minute tribute to his mother, who passed away in 1999 at the age of 99. So Hockney in that sense is a bit confusing because it doesn’t follow any order, it’s just a series of talking heads (including Hockney’s) interspersed with his work.

It is the art shown in the film that is breathtaking. Hockney created two very different landscapes for his work – the vast bright colorful spaces of California and the dark, moody hills of East Yorkshire. His work would start with a photograph, and from then he would reproduce it as a print, including friends and acquaintances in some of his paintings – some of whom discuss their memories posing for Hockney.

Some of his work shown in the film includes his ‘We Two Boys Together Clinging,’ an oil on board painting showing two men clinging to each other. ‘Pacific Mutual Life’ is another one of his earlier works and it is just that – a painting of the Pacific Mutual Life Building in Los Angeles. One of his most famous works is “A Bigger Splash,’ simply an unseen diver already in the water, the remnants of his splash backdropped by the beautiful house with palm trees and terribly blue skies. Every one of Hockney’s painting tells a story from his life.

‘Peter Getting out of the Pool’ also stuck with this same motif – showing Hockney’s then boyfriend Peter Schlesinger literally getting out of the pool, naked, with the ripples of the water drawn by Hockey to look like squiggly lines. When the themes weren’t about pools or homosexuality, Hockney liked to paint people. ‘Mr. and Mrs. Clark and Percy’ (1970) shows two friends posing in their living room. Hockney for some strange reason could not paint Mr. Percey’s feet so he had him burrow them in the deep shag carpet.

But David Hockney comes off as lonely. He has had bouts of depression during his lifetime, especially after the death of his best friend Henry Geldzahler – who passed away in 1994 of cancer. They were soul mates, travelling together, working together, and practically living together. Henry, who worked in the art world as a curator, is shown in bed with Hockney, cuddling, and also shown at a beach house where he and Hockney would escape to be creative. Also AIDS entered into Hockney’s like, and his friends say that it shook him to it’s core. Hockney, who is free of the virus, says in the documentary that he lost two-thirds of his friends to the disease.

But Hockney always reinvents himself. His interest in films and photography grew into almost an obsession. He was one of the first artists to optically produce images, creating paintings that begun as a series of photographs taken from different angles of a single subject into one single piece of work – it’s a technique no else had ever done so successfully before. And Hockney has had a very successful life and career as an artist. And it’s hard to believe that at age 77 he is still working in the studio seven days a week.

Director Randall Wright was very fortunate in two respects in the making of this documentary; that Hockney was still alive, and that he fully cooperated with him for this documentary. Hockney gave Wright free reign to do whatever he wanted with his personal archives – the first time Hockney has ever done so. Hockney even gave Wright permission to use the many unseen experiments with film and video and his early still photographs. This is not the first time that Wright has worked with Hockney. In 2003 he directed ‘David Hockney: Secret Knowledge,’ which explored Hockney’s theory that artists have been using optical devices since the 15th century. But in Hockney, it’s all about the man, and the myth. But perhaps Wright is too close to his subject and has known him for a long time because after watching Hockney I still felt that I didn’t really understand him and felt like I had just been given a video tour of his art – abstract to a point of not knowing what to make of it. And at the end of the documentary, we see Hockney aimlessly walking around his house, not giving much of a dramatic ending to this film.

07th Oct2014

2014 London Film Festival – Film

by timbaros

The 58th BFI London Film Festival in partnership with American Express® starts today and promises big movies and even bigger stars.

Last year’s BFI London Film Festival was a rip-roaring success, with such high-profile premieres as Gravity, Philomena, Captain Phillips and Saving Mr. Banks. All films went on to box office success and many Oscars.
This year’s festival could possibly top last year’s festival. Here is a quick snapshot of what’s on:

Opening Night Gala:

The Imitation Game
Benedict Cumberbatch stars as Alan Turing, who created a machine during WWII that cracked the German Enigma Code and whose inventions would become the prototype of the modern computer. He was also arrested and convicted in 1952 for the criminal offense of homosexuality. Keira Knightley also stars.


Closing Night Gala:

Brad Pitt’s new film has him playing a battle-hardened sergeant. Set during WWII when the allies were making their final push into Germany, Pitt commands a Sherman tank, called Fury, that is on a mission behind enemy lines. Also stars Shia LaBeouf.

This film comes with the lots of good buzz (and talk of Oscar nominations). An unrecognizable Steve Carrell plays a very wealthy, and crazy, benefactor to wrestlers and brothers Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo. Based on the true story of American millionaire John du Pont and his fascination with brothers Dave and Mark Shultz. Directed by Bennett Miller who gave us Capote and Moneyball. Also stars Vanessa Redgrave and Sienna Miller.


Mr. Turner
Timothy Spall is said to be excellent in Director Mike Leigh’s movie about British painter J.M. William Turner. Mr. Turner is a character study of the last 25 years in the life of the painter, and the relationships he has with several women, including with his children.

Reese Witherspoon stars in this true story of a young woman attempting to walk the gruelling 1,100-mile hike across the Pacific Crest Trail in the early 1990’s. Directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, who last brought us Dallas Buyers Club.

Wunderkind Director Xavier Dolan, a festival favorite, is back with Mommy. His fifth feature in as many years (and he’s only 25) has Anne Dorval as a single mother who takes back into her home her son who is a troublemaker, suffers from ADHD, and has been expelled from a juvenile facility.


Bjork: Biophilia Live
This is being described as a multidimensional, multimedia project that explores the creative nexus between music, nature, and technology. And Bjork will be attending the festival as well to explain what it all means.

The New Girlfriend
Another film festival favorite – Francois Ozon brings us his latest film about a woman who is devastated by the death of her best friend and makes a promise to watch over her best friend’s husband and newborn child. This has the earmarks of Ozon written all over it – melodramatic and twisty.

Son of a Gun
Ewan McGregor stars in this heist thriller which is all about mobster living: fast cars and firearms. McGregor plays a father figure to a younger man who is just out of the slammer and is trying to take the right path.

Jack O’Connell, excellent in the recent Starred Up, plays a British soldier trapped on the streets of Belfast in 1971 after his army crew accidentally leaves him behind. He struggles to hide, and survive, while being chased by provisional militia and reliant on the mercy of loyalist allies. This one is a must see, just for O’Connell’s performance alone.

Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence are on screen again (after Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle) about a logging magnate and his ruthless brilliant wife set against the backdrop of the hills of North Carolina.

Camp X-Ray
Kristen Stewart plays against type as a soldier in the U.S. army who is tasked to guard over prisoners in Guatanamo Bay. She gets emotionally attached to one of the inmates while at the same time comes up against sexism within her ranks.


Willem Dafoe could either be perfect, or disastrous, by playing Italian Director Paolo Pasolini who’s films courted controversy for their shocking images of nudity and his homosexual lifestyle. Pasolini the movie is told in the hours leading up to his 1975 murder.

Also on offer are documentaries galore, including ones on artist David Hockney and film Director Robert Altman, as well as a documentary that deals with the Holocaust – titled German Concentration Camps Factual Survey – showing actual footage of the liberation of the concentration camps.

The Festival will screen a total of 245 fiction and documentary features, including 16 World Premieres, 9 International Premieres, 38 European Premieres and 19 Archive films including 2 Restoration World Premiere’s.1 There will also be screenings of 148 live action and animated shorts. A stellar line-up of directors, cast and crew are expected to take part in career interviews, master classes, Q&As and other special events. The 58th BFI London Film Festival will run
Wednesday 8 – Sunday 19 October 2014.

Tickets for the festival can be purchased at:

Telephone Bookings: 020 7928 3232 between 09:30–20:30
Online: www.bfi.org.uk/lff
In person: BFI Southbank Office: 11:30–20:30
Last minute tickets are available to be purchased on the day about 30 minutes prior to the screening at Festival venues