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Finding Vivian Maier

Finding Vivian Maier

Language: Chinese

Author: geocity

Updated: 3 years ago

Files: 1

Year: 2014
Run time: 83min
IMDB score: 7.7

Movie infomation

Movie name: Finding Vivian Maier

Genders: Mystery, Biography, Documentary

Imdb Score: 7.7

Runtime: 83min

Released: 17 Apr 2014

Director: John Maloof, Charlie Siskel


Actors: Vivian Maier, John Maloof, Daniel Arnaud, Simon Amédé

Box Office: $1.5M

Company: IFC Films


Imdb Link

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Exposing Who's Behind The Camera

10/10 Documentaries have an interesting way of touching souls. They are particularly effective because they're based on reality, and when they're well made, one appreciate the art behind the camera, and the full impact of the qualities of the subject matter. Last year we had "Blackfish", and I can recall others that were so effective that led to changes in the way we see and do things.

"Vivian" certainly raises a lot of questions because of the way it is structured. There are surprises and revelations, and they all ring true, not fabricated or biased, as it is the case of so many documentaries and Hollywood films which are produced by people who believe the subject matter is enough to have something special. "Vivian" introduces us to a unquestionable talent, one shaped by mysterious forces and incidents we might never really know or understand but presented in such a way that we might never forget who or what we have seen.

A photographer finds an incredible amount of photos, films (developed and undeveloped), and the trigger is that the artwork is unquestionably beautiful, haunting, special, and begs the audience to inquire how and why it was made. Through some careful detective work, we soon find the identity of the artist. The initial discovery raises more questions because of the quality of the work and the profession of the woman who took the pictures. She is revealed to be a nanny and a caretaker.

As layers are removed and more information is provided, we see a complex and mysterious individual who had the obsessive need to document what she saw, and with the help of a very good camera, an excellent eye for visual composition, and some interesting emotional baggage, we put together most of the puzzle.

The documentary takes you through interviews of some of the children she took care, the impressions she made along the way. How she was an imposing and puzzling character, creating an aura of distance, but not being able to remain neutral. Her personality was too strong and her emotions so powerful, they were hard to ignore. Interviewees show their affection, the way she made a difference in their lives by exposing them to a truly complex nature, a woman so different from what most expected. She dragged children through remote parts of town, driven by an impulse to study the darker side of society. Vivian was attracted by forces many would rather disregard. She look for frowns, flaws, pain, darkness and with the help of her camera, made them beautiful, alluring, attractive, and powerful.

The last third of the film shows her personal background, and though we know more than we did one hour before, we still are left with holes in the stories. They are meant to remain that way because in Vivian's eyes, the work and ideas were important enough to reflect her thoughts and questions, but she wasn't ready to share them with the world, much the way she kept her personal distance, she might have believed the world was not ready for her contributions, or she lacked the confidence to offer them to us.

What is obvious by the end of the documentary is that she is now making a mark in the world, and people can recognize that her soul is in her work, a soul that appreciated, feelings and emotions other fail to recognize or are bound by their own limits. She had no audience expectations and crossed barriers. There is the sadness and joys of a child's eyes, the weight of the world in those denizens she captured at a special time. The most intriguing subjects are those who know they are being photographed and are under her spell, willing to let souls connect for a few seconds. Just like her subjects, which remain a mystery to us, like Da Vinci's "Mona Lisa", Vivian also manages to remain somehow enigmatic, yet fully human and quite a special artist and human being.

3 years ago

Intriguing and Fascinating

8/10 Though we know very little about some of the great artists of the past, many say that it is not important because we have the works. Yet the world still longs for knowledge about the living, breathing human being, the man or woman behind the name on the painting or the title page. This element of mystery is what makes John Maloof and Charlie Siskel's documentary Finding Vivian Maier so intriguing, yet also leaves us wanting to know more. The subject of the film is an unknown photographer whose art has been compared to the masters, though she never exhibited her work and little is known about her life.

The photos, discovered by Maloof, display a segment of society invisible to many in the 1950s - the old, the poor, the black, the young, and the disenfranchised, a kaleidoscope of stunning images that poignantly capture the faces of humanity with humor and rare sensitivity. The story begins with John Maloof reporting how he purchased a box of negatives at an auction in Chicago in 2007 for a book he was working on. Told that the photographs were by Vivian Maier, he did not recognize the name and could find nothing about her on Google. After stashing the box away for two years, Maloof decided to scan some images and post them on Flickr.

Writing on the website that he had about 30,000 negatives of Maier's work that cover a period ranging from the 1950s to the 1970s, he requested direction, asking whether the photos are worthy of an exhibition or a book. Shortly after that, an article appeared in a British newspaper and the Chicago Cultural Center presented an exhibition of her work in 2011. Kickstarter provided the funding and this documentary began to take shape. Still digging for more information, the second half of the film is devoted to discoveries the director made about Maier and they are not all pretty.

What we do know is that Maier was born in 1926 and spent some time in France before working as a nanny for upper middle class families in the Chicago suburbs (including a brief time with Phil Donahue). Always dressed in an old-fashioned suit, Maier would walk through streets and alleys with the children she cared for, snapping black and white photographs with her Rolleiflex camera that she held down by her waist. Interviews with past employers and grown children, though often contradictory, reveal a private but very complex individual with strong opinions that she did not hesitate to share. They also indicate that she had a dark side and her reported bizarre behavior may have indicated serious emotional problems.

There are also stories about her room being filled with newspaper as high as the ceiling, that she used a fake French accent (though some do not recall any accent at all), and changed her name with each family she worked for, often giving phony names. One woman remembered that Maier told her that she was "sort of a spy." Some of those interviewed have more upsetting memories about coercion and bullying, but the film does not dwell on them, nor provide anyone to either counter or corroborate them. We do learn, however, that when Vivian was much older, two of the children she cared moved her into an apartment and finally into a nursing home where she died in 2009.

Unfortunately, neither of these loving children was interviewed, leaving a tantalizingly vague idea of who she really was. Though admittedly he has a commercial interest in its promotion, Maloof has done a public service by making the world aware of the work of this great artist and has been willing to spend an enormous amount of time and money in the process. Though this has resulted in her work now being displayed in galleries all over the world, the question of why her photographs have not been accepted by the Museum of Modern Art is left unexplored.

The bigger mystery - why she chose to withhold the photos from the world, of course, is still unknown and the film sheds very little light on this puzzle. Like last year's Searching for Sugar Man, a documentary about Sixto Rodriguez, another unknown but very talented artist, Finding Vivian Maier is a fascinating ride. Unlike Rodriguez, however, Vivian Maier will never hear the applause.

3 years ago

Wonderful documentary with two main interwoven stories.

9/10 I saw Finding Vivian Maier last night and thought that the movie was very interesting and riveting. I've been following the story of Vivian Maier's photography ever since the story first appeared on PBS-WTTW, Chicago. At first pass, the story was lacking in general information about her, but the many 1950s/1960s street photos of Chicago (mostly) and New York City were wonderful. The photos, I think it's fair to say, took the international photo art world by storm.

After she died, the bulk of her photos and negatives were bought by John Maloof, a co-director of the movie. Vivian Maier's personal and photographic story, along with John Maloof's story relative to purchasing the photos and fleshing out information on Ms Maier are the subject of the movie and the two interwoven stories are most interesting.

Interviews of those that knew her or her work are in the movie, many of her photos are shown, as are shows of her photos.

I, like the previous reviewer, would like to see the movie again. If it comes out in CD or similar form, I'd be a buyer.

3 years ago

An entertaining 83 minute sales pitch

7/10 This film covers the fascinating discovery and commercializing of one of the un-seen masters of 20th century photography.

You probably want to start with the BBC documentary about Vivian Maier before watching this one, called The Vivian Maier Mystery. It has more facts, and research, and explains what is known about her life in a definitive fashion. The BBC film also presents multiple viewpoints on key topics, and was not financed by the company that sells her prints.

That said, the tale as told in Finding Vivian Maier is good reality TV drama, and has more of an emotional tug -- and really makes you want to go out and buy some of this artists' work.

3 years ago

A double whammy of story and art

10/10 This documentary is one of a kind. The story of an eccentric, possible mentally ill mystery woman and her prolific photographic work. If the move was just about her art, it would be extraordinary, as her work was. The story of her bizarre and secret life just enhance the film. For a first time effort from John Maloof, this one is very well done. The film starts with those who knew her, openly expressing their amazement to her unknown and mysterious life as a street photographer, filled with the images she kept a secret from everyone. You wonder how someone with her talent could keep it a secret for so long. Maloof plays a significant role in front of the camera as it is necessary for him to tell the story. When it is over, you are still left with a sense of disappointment. You know more about this mystery woman, yet you still crave for more..............And, the images still haunt you. This is one movie I will see numerous times.

The showing I attended had Jeff Garlin participate in a Q & A. It was entertaining as he detailed the process and effort Maloof put in to make this gem of a documentary.

The added bonus was my friends brother was in the film. Very exciting.

Please see this film if you can. Please see the photography of Vivian Maier if you can.

3 years ago