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NEW YORK — The influence of the burgeoning medium of film during the early part of the 20th century on modern art, and Cubism in particular, is the subject of “Picasso and Braque Go to the Movies.” The documentary, directed by art dealer/film producer Arne Glimcher (“The Mambo Kings”) and produced and narrated by Martin Scorsese, features a profusion of provocative ideas and a wealth of vintage film clips but is unable to avoid having the inevitable feel of a college thesis.
Picasso and Braque apparently were avid film buffs, with Glimcher’s theme being that their work — particularly the Cubist paintings that they simultaneously created largely in the years 1907-14 — were deeply influenced by the early efforts of such film pioneers as Thomas Edison and especially Georges Melies, clips of whose playful films are featured prominently.
A hodgepodge of interrelated theories that is in no small way reminiscent of the art movement that provides its inspiration, the film is too scattershot to make a sustained impact. But there are plenty of thoughtful ideas presented along the way, many of them provided by the incisive commentary of such artists as Chuck Close, Julian Schnabel and Eric Fischl.
And, of course, there is Scorsese, who has demonstrated his penchant for effusive narration on his own documentaries exploring the history of cinema. Whether describing Cubism as “not a style, but a revolution” or providing a lengthy analysis of how he composed the climactic scene from “The Departed,” the veteran filmmaker is so entertaining and insightful in his commentary that one wants to sign up immediately for whatever graduate course he’s teaching.
Opened: Thursday, May 27 (Arthouse Films)
Director: Arne Glimcher
Producers: Arne Glimcher, Martin Scorsese, Robert Greenhut
Executive producer: Bonnie Hlinomaz
Director of photography: Petr Hlinomaz
Editor: Sabine Krayenbuhl
No rating, 62 minutes
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