Though director Marion Cajori’s efforts to document artist Chuck Good’s life dates back as far as 1998 with a PBS special (for which she won an Emmy), this recent documentary titled simply Chuck Close is an expansion on what she started decades ago. This is a fairly recent production that Cajori finished before her passing in 2006 and it saw a theatrical release (limited, of course) in 2007 briefly before New Video snatched it up for its very first home video release. Chances are unless you’re part of the art scene you won’t know (or possibly care) about the subject matter involved here, but as with the vast majority of New Video’s documentary releases they all have something worthwhile to check out for everyone.
CHUCK CLOSE, an astounding portrait of one of the world’s leading contemporary painters, was a parting gift from filmmaker Marion Cajori before she died. With editing completed by Ken Kobland, CHUCK CLOSE limns the life and work of a man who has reinvented portraiture. Close photographs his subjects, blows up the image to gigantic proportions, divides it into a detailed grid and then uses a complex set of colors and patterning to reconstruct each face. The genius of the film is not only that it allows the artist to illuminate his methodology (he is wonderfully articulate), but also that it features his friends and colleagues (Brice Marden, Robert Storr, Dorothea Rockburne, Philip Glass, Arne Glimcher, Kiki Smith, Elizabeth Murray, Alex Katz, Kirk Varnedoe, among others) who make important contributions to appreciating Close’s gifts.
I know next to nothing about art and even less about artists, so you could build a documentary full of lies and I would be prone to believe it simply because I know no better. In the case of this one, however, I think it’s safe to assume that this documentary is one of the more in-depth and tightly delivered documentaries on any artist…and while I said the same thing about the Joan Mitchell documentary (which Cajori also directed), this one is even closer to that fact simply because it’s over twice the length of Mitchell’s since the Chuck Close documentary runs a lengthier one hundred and sixteen minutes. What makes it such an insightful and entertaining documentary to watch is not only the input from the artist himself but also how far reaching it is. It covers everything from his birth to a deadly blood clot in his spinal column that left him largely unable to paint without some kind of additional aid.
The documentary covers almost every element you could hope for and surprisingly it does it without seemingly leaving anything out—this is one of the few documentary releases from New Video/docurama recently that didn’t sport a plethora of extras. Truthfully speaking at almost two hours this one really didn’t feel like it needed it either. Unless you’re a massive art fan then you probably won’t even be all that invested in this documentary, but if you’re into the art scene then this is truly a Recommended outing.
docuramafilms brings Chuck Close to DVD in a standard (and clear!) amaray DVD case. Nothing overly special about the presentation of the documentary here—no fancy exterior cardboard slipcase and the cover itself looks like a rather laid back BBC special documentary release more than anything. Video and audio is a solid presentation overall and about what you’d expect from a documentary. As can be expected from a documentary the video is in 1.33:1 and the audio is a simple DD2.0 mix.
Extras are sadly zilch except for a Theatrical Trailer.
Overall, again, a Recommended release for art buffs. Everyone else can safely walk on by it.
Chuck Close arrives on DVD on August 24th.