I saw this film in a theatre in downtown Pittsburgh last Friday. I was pleasantly surprised, both by the film and the work of "Miss Meyers".
The film is in fact titled "FINDING Vivian Maier", so it is appropriate for it to be as much about finding the work as it is about Vivian herself. Where I felt the film really shined was the way in which it asked more questions than it answered. We can't TRULY know her motivations, intentions or how she would feel about what's happening with her work now. I believe the film left that same ambiguity when it came to the people that were interviewed... I question some of their stories... some of their own motivations and the film presented things in such a way as to question them itself.
As to Maloof? Interesting fellow, indeed. I'm glad he found her work and helped to bring it to us now... and why shouldn't he profit from the time and work he's put into this significant effort? I look forward to purchasing the DVD and watching it again. I also look forward to seeing more images made by Vivian, she made some fine pictures.
Last edited by Shawn Dougherty; 05-09-2014 at 02:49 PM. Click to view previous post history.
Went to see Finding Vivian Maier last night at Film Streams. Its an ok movie built around two fairly interesting stories. The only problem is the movie had a hard time deciding which one of them to tell.
The first story is that of Vivian Maier, the eccentric nanny of the Chicago Northside who spent her days walking the city with the children in her care, taking thousands and thousands of often amazing photographs but then hiding them away.
The second story is that of John Maloof, the Chicago area resident alternately described as a “historian and collector” or a “real estate agent” (he may have even published a book on “making big money prospecting for-sale-by-owner properties”, but I’m not sure that’s the same guy) who stumbled into Maier’s work at a storage auction.
At best, Maloof (who co-wrote and co-prodced the film) is a guy who was genuinely inspired and intrigued by Maier and has made a mission out of promoting her work. At worst, Maloof is an opportunist who happened to stumble into a large collection of great photographs and is exploiting it for personal gain. Or maybe Maloof is a guy who was working in the hyper-competitive and often soulless field of real estate, and saw his discovery of Maier’s work as his chance to get out and transform himself and his life into something with more meaning.
The film certainly paints a picture of a rather eccentric personality for Maier. Whether she qualifies as "bat s*** crazy" is a matter of interpretation. Personally, I wouldn't go nearly that far. In any case, history is filled with stories of artists with "tail end of the bell curve" personalities. In that sense, she was as one might have expected.
I do find it interesting how her obsession with photography feathered neatly with her hoarding disorder.
I think she was crazy to freeze time. The same way all us button pushers are.
FWIW: I like Maier's work. I wish she had been alive to profit from it. She is not, and there are no heirs.
I would rather Mr. Maloof et al make some money in the process of making her body of work available to the public, than it remain hidden. Maloof has a fairly large job ahead of him: developing hundreds of rolls, cataloging them and scanning the negatives. Given that the museums and galleries he contacted, declined to accept the task, at least we should be thankful he decided to take the risk.
Sure, I think we all wish that Vivian Maier had been able to recognize the value (both artistic and financial) of her work. But, frankly, given her personality, that was unlikely. Sad, but true. So, at least we get to see it, and Mr. Maloof may end up getting rich...or not. It's the way of the world, and I don't condemn him for it.
Museums are a pain to deal with. They are more money hungry than Maloof.
I had heard he was a picker that bought the storage locker contents and started to promote them. Nothing wrong with that. But $ is the foundation of all he does.
I would not characterize him as a picker. He was planning to write a book on the history of a Chicago neighborhood, found this large lot of photographs at a sale and bought them, thinking they would be useful to illustrate the book. He was buying them to use them, not to re-sell.
“You seek escape from pain. We seek the achievement of happiness. You exist for the sake of avoiding punishment. We exist for the sake of earning rewards. Threats will not make us function; fear is not our incentive. It is not death that we wish to avoid, but life that we wish to live.” - John Galt