Make your canevas

Film. Painting and cinema are both visual. That’s why painters’ films have become a genre in their own right. But do we always want to spend 90 minutes in front of these paintings ? Panorama on the occasion of the release of Alberto Giacometti, The Final Portrait by Stanley Tucci.

By Jacques Braunstein et Franck Lebraly

If Giacometti is best known for his filiform sculptures, he is also the author of many portraits drawn with a black and melancholic brush. The new film by actor-director Stanley Tucci is inspired by the book of James Lord, an American critic who posed for him in 1964. 18 long sessions during which the artist, perfectionist and perpetually dissatisfied, erased every evening what he had painted in the afternoon, as a Pénélope de Montparnasse. The reconstruction is rather successful and Geoffrey Rush does the job, even if his accent in French seems much more Australian than Swiss-Italian (the artist’s nationality). One still wonders what the filmmaker finds to Armie Hammer (Call Me By Your Name, Nocturnal Animals…) while the good surprises come from the female cast. Sylvie Testu is perfect as a neglected wife who can not be defeated and Clémence Poésy reveals herself as a foolish and luminous muse. As for the question of whether 18 sessions of poses is not a little long and repetitive… His answer is  unfortunately yes.

*Still painting, Geoffrey Rush and Clémence Poésy are also playing in the series Genius : Picasso with Antonio Banderas in the leading role, currently broadcast on National Geographic.


To tell the story of Jean-Michel Basquiat, painting rock star who died of an overdose at 28 years old, no one is better placed than Julian Schnabel painter himself who was his friend, admirer and competitor in the Figuration Free from the 80s. Rather than dwelling on what the artist paints, he knows how to show where, when and how he paints and makes of New York, the city that gave birth to their generation of visual artists, a character in its own right.

David Bowie plays a stingy Andy Warhol, jealous and hilarious. Courtney Love makes a funny cameo in the role of Madonna. And the soundtrack brings together PIL, Charlie Parker, John Cale, The Psychadelic Furs or Tom Waits. Only questionable little coquetry, Schnabel has chosen the actor Gary Oldman who is 100 kilos lighter than him.

BIG EYES (2014)

With his huge eyes and naive facial features characters, Walter Keane is probably one of the most kitsch painters of the twentieth century. His paintings, with those of Bernard Buffet and Toffoli, have been reproduced in poster to millions of copies. And generations of dining room walls do not thank them.

But to top it off, Walter Keane turned out to be a crook who never painted anything and just signed the paintings of his wife Margaret… This was followed by a resounding trial whose director Tim Burton (Mars Attack, Alice in Wonderland…) delights with his usual bad spirit. Christopher Waltz (Inglourious Basterds, Carnage) embodies this character carved for him with jubilation, while Amy Adams (American Bluff, Premier Contact…) plays a more subtle Margaret. A good movie about crusts, a wager !

FRIDA (2002)

Salma Hayek embodies Frida Kahlo, a tailored role for the Mexican actress, a film that she wanted, put ten years to exist and produced. Managing to shape her amazing forms to turn them into a bruised and puny body. We moreover regret that this matter about the body is only overflown by the director Julie Taymor, who dwells too much the passive and agreed chronology of the artist’s life…

The movie still highlights the eventful destiny of a multi-faceted icon, a woman ahead of her time preparing her revolution in a world of men. Woman whose art reveals itself as much in her life as in her paintings.

POLLOCK (2000)

A very academic style for this first production of Ed Harris, actor with a flawless filmography (The Right Stuff, The Truman show, A History of Violence…). After watching Pollock, we don’t know much about the man who invented Dripping. Apart from his penchant for women and alcohol that made him flirt with a dementia that he included in his creative process.

The film does not evoke its relation to shamanic art either, but focuses on the meanders of art world and its mercantile wheels. This Pollock has the merit of avoiding the Hollywood clichés and artifices. Raw, filmed in the manner of a dark film, it leaves the spectator quite alone, as to leave free rein to his imagination in front of a painting.

RENOIR (2012)

We hear cicadas and the murmur of the wind, the palette is sublime… Renoir by Gilles Bourdos with Michel Bouquet excels in simplicity. Colors, light dancing in the meadow, we are in a canevas’ master. The film shows him declining and signing the end of Impressionism. He presents is redhead muse (Christa Theret) to his son (Vincent Rottiers) back from the front. We are in 1915, and in this golden unspoilt site we don’t want to hear the sound of war. While Renoir, Auguste, looks at Renoir, Jean, future cinema genius.