21 de Fevereiro, 19h: “Esboços de Frank Gehry”

Sketches. blogRealização: Sydney Pollack

EUA/ALE 2005, 83’, M/12

Frank Gehry adora fazer esboços: é o início do seu processo de trabalho. E foi este amor pelos esboços que deu a Pollack as primeiras pistas para o seu documentário. A partir dos esboços originais de Gehry para cada um dos seus projectos mais importantes, o filme explora o modo como Gehry transforma estes desenhos abstractos, primeiro em modelos tangíveis e tridimensionais, muitas vezes feitos a partir de cartão e fita-cola, e depois no seu resultado final -edifícios de titânio e vidro, cimento e aço, madeira e pedra.
Esboços de Frank Gehry, o filme sobre o reconhecido arquitecto Frank O. Gehry, é o primeiro documentário de longa-metragem do realizador Sidney Pollack. Gehry e Pollack são amigos há muitos anos, e foi Gehry quem pediu ao cineasta que assinasse este filme sobre a sua carreira.
Pollack começou o projecto em 2000, e terminou-o em 2005.

In ‘Sketches of Frank Gehry,’ a Design for Living Large

By A. O. SCOTT

One of the hardest places for a movie — or anything else — to go is into the mind of an artist. You can point the camera at the work that is the tangible product of how that mind operates, and you can record interviews that try to explain and interpret, but the creative process remains a durable mystery.

“Sketches of Frank Gehry” respects the essential enigma of its subject even as it illuminates his ways of thinking about form, space and construction. As its title suggests, this absorbing documentary, the first directed by Sydney Pollack (“Out of Africa,” “The Way We Were” and so on), is a modest undertaking, offering glimpses of the architect and his work rather than a full-scale portrait or catalogue raisonné.

This approach seems apt, since Mr. Gehry’s buildings, with their folded surfaces and off-center interiors, are impossible to take in head-on, all at once. They originate as doodles on paper and assemblages of cardboard and tape, eventually (when everything works out) achieving their final incarnation in glass and titanium, and it is fascinating to watch this metamorphosis take place.

Mr. Pollack visits most of the important Gehry landmarks, from the Walt Disney Concert Hall to the Bilbao Guggenheim, as well as early residences and a hockey rink that Mr. Gehry, a native of Canada, built for the Anaheim Mighty Ducks of the N.H.L. In addition to Mr. Gehry and his associates, the filmmaker interviews patrons, admirers and friends, including the former Disney executives Michael D. Eisner and Michael S. Ovitz, the Guggenheim chief Thomas Krens and Herbert Muschamp, the former architecture critic of The New York Times.

At times “Sketches” seems to veer toward the genre of celebrity-talking-head mutual-appreciation documentary, in which famous people talk about other famous people, engaging in a form of tasteful, tactful log-rolling. Not all of the testimony here is especially expert — no disrespect to Bob Geldof, who tells us about how he once rode past a Gehry building on a bus in Germany — though almost all of it is complimentary.

The token detractor is Hal Foster, an art critic and Princeton professor, who accepts the role with evident weariness, and is in any case more critical of Mr. Gehry’s reputation, and of the kind of cultural branding his fame represents, than of his work per se. More interesting are conversations with Ed Ruscha and Chuck Arnoldi, California artists with whom Mr. Gehry was associated when much of the architectural establishment was ignoring him, and with Dr. Milton Wexler, the therapist who has treated Mr. Gehry for decades and who has to turn away patients who believe he can make them world-class architects too.

But what keeps the film going is the rapport between filmmaker and subject, who see themselves as kindred spirits and who have been friends for years. At first glance this may seem like an implausible notion — at least I can think of no critical formula that would establish an analogy between “Tootsie” and the Bilbao Guggenheim — but after a while the terms of their affinity become clear.

As both men have occasion to remark, what unites them is the necessity of achieving a measure of creative freedom in a field usually defined by commercial concerns and controlled by other people’s money. At least on the evidence of “Sketches,” Mr. Gehry has a lot of satisfied customers, including one whose house, after years of work and millions of dollars, was never built.

Mr. Pollack, kibitzing around the architect’s offices with a handheld camera, is not the kind of cinéma vérité wallflower who would keep himself studiously out of the picture. He and Mr. Gehry, in spite of their long careers and numerous accomplishments, share traces of a rough-edged outsider’s sensibility. Affable as he is in conversation, Mr. Gehry also clearly has a combative, prickly side, which he mentions more than he demonstrates.

And this movie, for its part, balances exploration of his personality with admiration of his work. Mr. Pollack, an appreciative amateur, is an able tour guide who uses his trained eye to generate insights when talk runs dry.

At one point Mr. Gehry expresses his envy for painters, and laments his inability to achieve the visual effects that they can. “Yeah, right,” Mr. Pollack says, cutting to a quick, eloquent montage of some of his friend’s buildings, their surfaces exquisitely reflecting sunlight, absorbing rain and lifting their surroundings into the realm of art.

Parceria com a Delegação de Abrantes da Ordem dos Arquitectos.

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