His architect - Page 2

Director Sydney Pollack's portrait of Frank Gehry is sketchy at best
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Gehry's sketches fluid, Matisse-like squiggles that stand in stark contrast to the imposing final products make for effective intertitles, but the montages of pretty buildings set to classical music become downright coma inducing after a while. Better are the passages featuring Gehry's close friend and analyst of 35 years, Milton Wexler, and Gehry himself discussing his relationship with cuckolding first wife Berta. It was Berta who talked him into changing his name, and for many years he was so bereft he still introduced himself by saying, "I'm Frank Gehry. It used to be Goldberg." (Gehry does, however, admit that anti-Semitism probably caused much of his initial struggle in the business.)

If Pollack really wanted to focus on Gehry's artistic process, why not follow one project through from inception to completion rather than offer circumspect glimpses the titular sketches of Gehry’s work? Surely the filmmaker, although a documentary neophyte, understands that drama is the essence of nonfiction storytelling too? It's hard to believe it took him a reported five years to cobble together this underwhelming footage. (Easier to believe: The stuffy Sketches was coproduced by New York PBS affiliate WNET.) Sketches of Frank Gehry isn't necessarily a bad film it more or less meets the requisite documentary building codes. But no one is going to stop and marvel at its sheer audacity or be moved by its form. Perhaps next time the architect himself should design his own doc. He could call it Fully Realized Frank Gehry, and it would be unafraid to look stupid. And wouldn't that be great. SFBG

SKETCHES OF FRANK GEHRY

Opens Fri/26

Embarcadero Center Cinema

1 Embarcadero Center, promenade level, SF

(415) 267-4893

Albany Twin

1115 Solano, Albany

(510) 843-3456

For showtimes, go to www.sfbg.com

www.sonyclassics.com/sketchesoffrankgehry

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