Cinema Review: Tim's Vermeer | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Wednesday, September 30th, 2020  

Tim’s Vermeer

Studio: Sony Pictures Classics
Directed by Teller

Jan 30, 2014 Web Exclusive
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Tim Jenison, inventor and founder of technology company NewTek, has built his career and wealth in computer-based video imaging software. He has a keen eye for anything visual and, as a perceptive thinker, found himself drawn to the amazingly life-like paintings of 17th Century Dutch Master Johannes Vermeer. Inspired, intrigued, and captivated by such iconic works as “Girl With A Pearl Earring,” “The Kitchen Maid,” and “The Music Lesson,” Jenison studies Vermeer’s masterpieces and comes to believe Vermeer approached them not via the traditional process of sketching, then painting, but rather through technological innovation. Over the course of four years, Jenison sets out to prove his point by recreating the location of Vermeer’s “The Music Lesson,” building a light-refracting device of the kind Vermeer would have had access to, and replicating the famed painting.

Jenison is as engaging a subject as one could hope for in any documentary. His excitement at the prospect of what he’s doing is contagious, and while he is a lofty thinker, both his rudimentary clarifications and the film’s handy and timely CGI explanations make the science and math behind Vermeer’s (and Jenison’s) approach easy to follow. The film affords us a great front row seat to Jenison’s process, escorting us from the moment of inception, through the building of the doppelganger Vermeer studio, to the ultimate recreation of the painting itself. Director Teller (yes, of Penn – who is featured – and Teller) manages to keep the subject thoroughly engaging, even when Jenison himself is tiring of painting after more than 120 days, and sojourns to LA and England to get second opinions from other artists and professors, who offer lively and often humorous breaks from the work Jenison is doing in his lab.

Tim’s Vermeer refers not just to the replica Vermeer he seeks to paint, but to his understanding of who Vermeer was and how he accomplished his work. Vermeer, says Jenison, was a brilliant technologist (which in no way belittles his skill as an artist). Jenison, for what it’s worth, does not consider himself an artist in the slightest, yet what he is able to do begs one to consider where that line is drawn. Tim’s Vermeer ought to please anyone with a creative, inventive, or inquisitive mind.

Author rating: 6.5/10

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Nicole Belanger
January 31st 2014

Thank you for this mind boggling work…hope I have acces to your film in Canada!