"Tim's Vermeer": Re-Creating a Masterpiece, Starting with the Room in Which It Was Painted

Location Info


Embarcadero Center Cinema

1 Embarcadero Center
San Francisco, CA 94111

Category: Movie Theaters

Region: Embarcadero


Not Rated. Opens Friday at Landmark Embarcadero.

The documentary category is rich with contenders this awards season, so it's understandable if a film about a low-priority and admittedly insoluble 17th-century mystery seems less urgent than some other rightly lauded fare. But Tim's Vermeer, in which a non-painter painstakingly replicates a masterpiece just to test a theory about how the original was made, is one documentary not to miss. Being an inventor by trade, Tim Jenison barely knows how to hold a paintbrush, but he has a flair for solving problems. He's the right man for the job of testing David Hockney's hypothesis that the most famously photorealistic paintings made before the invention of photography were done using camera obscuras and portable mirrors. We watch as Jenison reconstructs every detail of the room in which Vermeer painted "The Music Lesson," then reproduces the painting itself. It takes hundreds of days, and the results are stunning. Odd, you may think, that a Penn & Teller film — Teller directed, Penn produced — seems so bent on revealing a great magician's secrets, but their evident appreciation of Vermeer, and of Jenison for that matter, only affirms the revelatory power of pure curiosity. The film plays less like an extension of Penn & Teller's own critical-inquiry cable show Bullshit! than like a refined long episode of Mythbusters; even still, this is no prosecutorial debunking, but rather an awed yet also clear-eyed tribute to aesthetic ingenuity.

My Voice Nation Help

Now Showing

Find capsule reviews, showtimes & tickets for all films in town.

Powered By VOICE Places

Box Office

Scores provided by Rotten Tomatoes

Join My Voice Nation for free stuff, film info & more!

©2014 SF Weekly, LP, All rights reserved.