Sketches of Frank Gehry

on May 12, 2006 by Susan Green
The world-renowned architect who designed the startling Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in Spain is brilliant, difficult, funny and dour. Oscar-winning director Sydney Pollack ("Out of Africa") successfully conveys that complexity in "Sketches of Frank Gehry." The filmmaker examines his old friend's career through extensive interviews, guided tours of noteworthy buildings and commentaries by a curious range of people, from Disney mogul Michael Eisner to New York artist Julian Schnabel dressed in a terrycloth bathrobe. Periodically seen circling his subject with a digital video camera, Pollack reveals a few relevant details from his own life while comprehending the mystery that is Gehry. It underscores the sort of personal touch -- like Nathaniel Kahn's 2003 film "My Architect," about his late father Louis -- that can keep the documentary genre fresh. Although the film seeks balance by consulting a Princeton professor who feels ambivalent about Gehry's work, it's really a compelling homage with insight into the creative process. Featuring Frank Gehry, Sydney Pollack, Bob Geldof, Julian Schnabel, Michael Eisner, Dennis Hopper, Michael Ovitz, Herbert Muschamp, Hal Foster and Ed Ruscha. Directed by Sydney Pollack. Produced by Ultan Guilfoyle. A Sony Pictures Classics release. Biographical documentary. Rated PG-13 for brief strong language. Running time: 86 min
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