Thursday, February 25
The Art of The Steal
Barnes Is Noble
Official Website | Trailer & Mo
The best documentaries open yer eyes to something you've never encountered before. Even bester documentaries do the same thing, but leave the viewer thirsting for mo knowledge on the subject once the house lights come on and they leave the theater. Even besterer ones do both them thangs but also enrage the viewer so dang much that they want to spring into action (this is why it's our mos flavorite film genre, besides dystopian future movies from the 70s). Don Argott's engrossing The Art of The Steal does all three, but is so darn angrily one-sided that it's almos hard to stand behind the cause being presented when they don't leave much room for the counterpoint of view (this is why Bill Maher's doc Religulous failed, even if it was frakin highlarious)
So what artful stolenings is going on here? Oh, only one of the mos impressive private art collections in the world, specifically of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist work that's so mammoth and prolific (181 Renoirs, 69 Cézannes, 59 Matisse + choice pieces from El Greco, Goya, Manet, Modigliani, Monet, Prendergast, Picsso, Seurat and some dude named Van Gogh), it makes the Musée d'Orsay blush. All this jazz is housed, 'wall ensemble' style, in a suburb of Philadelphia at The Barnes Foundation, named after Albert C. Barnes, the self-made man who made a fortune on the antiseptic drug Argyrol, then spent his money on those paintings long before the great museums of the world ever took notice. Kudos to Barnes and his keen eye for doing so, and thus he should be allowed to do whatever he wants to do with his own property. So what he did was establish that foundation, a place where students of the arts could... study these arts, and thus also keep the downtown Philly upper crusters and political players from getting their grubby lil hands on his collection. But could it stay like that forever?
Eventually Barnes dies (actually it was suddenly), and although his will explicitly stated that the collection shall never be rearranged, moved, loaned or travel (or any other term that would prevent its escape), not everyone gets their dying wishes granted, hispecially since a new crop of Philly upper crusters and political players have come on the scene wanting the same thing that their predecessors did. These folks will do anything within their power to lawfully, even if done in the shadiest of shady acre ways, get the collection striped from the Barnes' walls and relocated downtown, so more than 400 people per day can see it. Of course any number greater than 400 = big $$szzz and now you can see why the city of 'delphia wants it so badly, and to make a long tangled story that you'll see unfold in the doc short, that's exactly what happened. Like we said, Argott and his ill-tempered talking heads scream nothing but blood murder, and with the way it all went down they have every right to do so, but does it mean they're right?
Visitation Right: a relocation makes sense, since this collection is too important to be hidden, but we suggest you trek down to 300 North Latch's Lane in Merion, PA to see the collection in the only home it has even known, before it moves for good in 2012. that's eggzactly what we did after seeing this doc!! NOTE: reservations are required so plan ahead!!!
Verdictgo: Jeepers Mosssssssssssssss Def Worth A Peepers!!!!
Steal opens in NY/Philly on Friday and is already avails on IFC on demand!!!!!!
and until next thyme the balcony is clothed...
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