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Sketches of Frank Gehry


Stars: Frank Gehry, Sydney Pollack, featuring Bob Geldof, Dennis Hopper. Philip Johnson, Eddie Ruscha, Julian Schnabel, Michael Ovitz, Milton Wexler, Juan Ignacio Vidarte, Barry Diller

Director: Sydney Pollack

Anyone who has to psych themselves up to start work (and that’s surely all of us) can’t fail to empathise with celebrated American architect Frank Gehry when he says, “I’m always scared that I’m not going to know what to do. It’s a terrifying moment”. That moment clearly passes, time and again, vividly demonstrated in an enthralling documentary to be savoured for its superb illumination of its two subjects – Gehry and architecture, both specific and general.

Pollack (Oscar-winner for Out of Africa and Tootsie) strikes cinematic gold with his first documentary, vibrantly profiling long-time friend Gehry through their gentle but fascinatingly revealing conversations and beautifully-filmed sequences exploring his ‘greatest works’, including such varied buildings as the Frederick R Weisman Art Museum at the University of Minnesota, the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles and, especially, the extraordinary, hypnotically beautiful Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao.

Their discussions, gently catalyzed by Pollack, bring Gehry’s working methods to life without artfulness or pretension and with a commendable lack of egoism, so that when he says “By the time I get to the finished building I don’t like it”, the remark rings true. So, too, does Pollack’s impeccable film, as various witnesses offer interesting comments and contributions and, for comic relief, Dennis Hopper and Bob Geldof briefly face the camera and talk enjoyably pretentious codswallop.

Alan Frank

USA 2005. UK Distributor: Artificial Eye. Colour.
84 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 29 Jun 2007