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  • Vol. 43, No. 26
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  • Film Review: "Tim's Vermeer"
  • Movie Reviews
  • Film Review: "Tim's Vermeer"

    Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer is renowned for creating stunning, photorealistic paintings at a time when photography didn't yet exist, and without any documented formal training. Directed by Teller -- of illusionist/comedy duo Penn & Teller fame -- the engrossing new documentary, "Tim's Vermeer," follows the efforts by Texas inventor and entrepreneur Tim Jenison to prove his theory that the artist utilized optical devices to achieve the seemingly impossible.

    Jenison makes for a charismatic subject, and in his obsessive need to crack Vermeer's method, he demonstrates limitless ingenuity. Creating a device that adds mirrors to a traditional camera obscura, the inventor sets out to perfectly duplicate Vermeer's 1662 painting, "The Music Lesson," despite the fact that he has never painted in his life. Jenison begins by hand-building a life-size recreation of the room depicted in the painting, and things just get nuttier from there. The results of his experiment are a fascinating examination of art, technology, and what, if anything, separates the two. -- Adam Lubitow

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