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Flash Movie Review: The Art of the Steal

I think we can all agree that a deceased individual’s wishes listed in their will should be honored. It would be unthinkable for me to not only ignore the person’s wishes but to take contrarian actions. This issue was at the heart of this gripping documentary. From a working class, Philadelphia family; Albert C. Barnes became a successful doctor who had a keen eye for art. He amassed a collection of modern and post-impressionist art before many others realized how important Picasso or Matisse would become in the art world. The established art critics scoffed at his colleciton which was something Dr. Barnes would never forget. What was known as the Barnes collection was a priceless accumulation the doctor had housed in a specially built building in Merion, just outside of Philadelphia. I was shocked when glimpses were shown of the hanging masterpieces. Besides the amazing amount of artwork on display, the pieces were absolutely impressive. I realize anyone who makes a documentary could be biased in regards to their views. However, when this movie presented different aspects of events and what possibly was taking place behind the scenes, I was saddened. The bottom line for me was listed in Dr. Barnes’ will: The  artwork was never to be loaned, moved or sold. How could people be so greedy and not respect a dead man’s wishes? What would give them the right? Watch this DVD and decide for yourself.


3 1/3  stars — DVD


Flash Movie Review: My Kid Could Paint That

Though I lack Abstract art knowledge, preferring the Impressionist period, I found this documentary quite interesting to watch. I have looked at some abstract art pieces and found myself puzzled by them. What made these things suddenly become art? The focus of this film was 4 year old Maria Olmstead and the sensation she caused when her art work began selling for thousands of dollars. Imagine the surprise of the gallery patrons who were not aware of the artist’s young age. During the filming of this intriguing documentary by Amir Bar-Lev, the television show 60 Minutes did an investigative piece on Maria and her family. Questioning the authenticity of her artwork, could it really be called art if the artist could not explain the how and why of its creation? I appreciated the way Mr. Bar-Lev tried to stay neutral with his filming, letting the viewers come to their own conclusions. For me, I felt I was watching a mystery as the events were being presented in this DVD. Instead of adding any additional information, I will let you decide for yourself on whether Maria really was a prodigy. Now you will have to excuse me, I have to go look for my Etch A Sketch.


3 1/4 stars — DVD

Flash Movie Review: Jiro Dreams of Sushi

After a friend became grossly ill from eating sushi some years ago, I stopped eating or thinking about the food. How surprised I was after viewing this documentary, I was not only hungry, but I had a new appreciation for this delicacy. It was amazing to see master sushi chef Jiro Ono talk about his life’s work on attempting to make the perfect piece of sushi. Now you may be thinking what the big deal was about this one individual, surely there were many chefs who wanted to create the best piece of sushi. The difference was 85 year old Jiro was the first sushi chef ever to obtain a 3 star rating from the Michelin guide. Mr Ono’s 10 seat restaurant was underground by a Toyko subway station; where reservations had to be made months in advance. I was intrigued by the single focus he had his entire life, to devote himself to creating sushi. With two sons in the business, Jiro tried to instill his strict work ethic into his sons, though he had no plans on retiring. The filming of this movie was simple with an easy flow to it. We were witnesses to every aspect of Jiro’s daily life; from fish market to preparation, all the way to how he serves his guests. I was fascinated by the entire process. Though it is unlikely I will start consuming sushi, I certainly will wonder how much thought went into those pieces the next time my friends order it. Japanese with English subtitles.

3 1/3 stars

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