Movie Review: Picasso and Braque Go to The Movies

Whether you think the advent of cinema over a century ago engaged in cross-pollination with the other arts in an enriching manner, or dumbed them down, is a personal matter. But Picasso And Braque Go To The Movies is adamant that movies interacted with art, especially painting, in miraculous ways. Though the issue with this documentary, is not the strength of its powers of persuasion, but its style. And unlike its enthusiasm to enlighten, the static format of its arguments make for less than convincing appeal.

Directed by Arne Glimcher (The Mambo Kings) and executive produced and narrated in part by Martin Scorsese, Picasso And Braque Go To The Movies proceeds to make its case by presenting a fascinating array of classic silent films. And whose imaginative flourishes and creative energy, could dwarf many of those bland, cookie cutter special effects blockbusters in comparison.

But the lion’s share of the rest of the documentary, resides in gathering primarily monotonous when not pretentious talking heads in the art world. Including academics, artists and critics explaining in endlessly repetitive minute detail, how the brush strokes in the Cubist paintings of Picasso and Braque imitate that radically innovative ‘annihilation of time and space’ and recreate those floating moments in flight, precipitated by the introduction of both cinema and airplanes to the human physical and perceptual landscape.

The subject matter is without a doubt intriguing, but a more passionate approach to the material at hand, beyond that exquisite silent footage, would have enhanced this project. In other words, a more poetic illumination contemporary with those times, encompassing first hand the immediacy, unimaginable awe and intimate emotions of the artists and spectators alike to this astonishing new art form called cinema. Rather than what seems more like a dreary classroom lesson after the fact.

Arthouse Films


2 1/2 stars

Prairie Miller is a New York multimedia journalist online, in print and radio, who reviews movies and conducts in-depth interviews. She can also be heard on WBAI/Pacifica National Radio Network’s Arts Express.