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Tim's Vermeer

History . Documentary

Inventor Tim Jenison seeks to understand the painting techniques used by Dutch Master Johannes Vermeer.

Actors: Philip Steadman , Teller , Martin Mull , Penn Jillette , Tim Jenison , David Hockney , Colin Blakemore
Directors: Teller
Country: USA
Release: 2013-10-03
More Info:
  • Owen Gleiberman

    An exquisitely fun documentary.

    Entertainment Weekly Full Review
  • Bob Mondello

    As with Six by Sondheim, Tim's Vermeer works at capturing on film how artists work their miracles. And it will have you, long after the credits fade, puzzling out questions of invention, creativity, science, talent, painstaking craft, and the magic that comes of putting all that together.

    NPR Full Review
  • Marc Mohan

    The result is both a captivating history lesson and a tense intellectual thriller that dares to ask big questions about creativity and technology.

    Portland Oregonian Full Review
  • Peter Rainer

    What Tim’s Vermeer is really about is two geniuses, of very different sorts, communing across time and space.

    Christian Science Monitor Full Review
  • Bill Goodykoontz

    It’s fascinating and funny while forcing us to consider the line between technology and art.

    Arizona Republic Full Review
  • Betsy Sharkey

    Like art itself, words can't fully capture what it is like to see the Vermeer emerge under Jenison's brush. Or to see Jenison's obsession with the idea run its course.

    Los Angeles Times Full Review
  • Peter Debruge

    The result is just about the most fun you can have while learning, partly because it strips away any tangents beyond the task at hand, offering a lean, 80-minute account of how this crazy guy erected his own Everest and then proceeded to climb it.

    Variety Full Review
  • Ty Burr

    The deeper Tim’s Vermeer takes you, the peskier and more profound the questions get.

    Boston Globe Full Review
  • Glenn Kenny

    The movie is straightforward, brisk, engaging, and sometimes even moving. One might entire feeling wary that the movie, in depicting an attempt to duplicate Vermeer's achievement, might also glibly undercut it; but that's not the point at all. Rather, Tim's Vermeer wants to expand the audience's understanding of what the actual practice of art is. Full Review
  • Peter Travers

    A stimulating detective story that holds you in thrall.

    Rolling Stone Full Review
  • Claudia Puig

    This thought-provoking documentary addresses the origins of Vermeer's photo-realistic art with all the suspense of a thriller.

    USA Today Full Review
  • William Goss

    Teller manages a careful enough balance between painstaking technique and a larger cultural context over 80 brisk minutes to make even minor revelations feel like major moments. Full Review
  • Eric Kohn

    Teller's rough, uncomplicated filmmaking style does little to elaborate on Jenison's story, as the subject's unending curiosity singlehandedly carries each scene.

    indieWIRE Full Review
  • Joe Morgenstern

    The most intriguing question it raises is whether our feelings about Vermeer may be changed by the likelihood of him having used optics of one sort or another. The answer is yes, unavoidably, but not necessarily for the worse.

    Wall Street Journal Full Review
  • Bilge Ebiri

    Tim’s Vermeer starts off in a playful fashion, but as he soldiers on, our intrepid, mild-mannered technologist finds himself getting emotional. In the presence of art, something happens. By the time it’s over, don’t be surprised if you’re more in awe of the work of an artist than ever before. Maybe this is Penn and Teller’s final, subtle rug-pulling moment: An attempt to demystify the artistic process ends up posing even greater mysteries.

    New York Magazine (Vulture) Full Review
  • Todd McCarthy

    The connection between art and technology is explored in an entertaining and accessible way in Tim's Vermeer, a documentary that demonstrates how a savvy and dedicated amateur with sufficient resources was able to create a remarkable likeness of a great 17th century painting.

    The Hollywood Reporter Full Review
  • Joe Williams

    Jenison, who had never painted a thing in his life, does indeed produce a beautiful work, but we should never forget that Penn and Teller are professional bamboozlers, and their attempt to re-frame the definition of genius might be nothing but smoke and mirrors.

    St. Louis Post-Dispatch Full Review
  • James Adams

    Johannes Vermeer is still a genius at documentary’s end but a fathomable genius, as much scientist as artist, a driven, resourceful creator whose conceptual and compositional brilliance remains undiminished by whatever techniques Jenison, Hockney and crew ascribe to him.

    The Globe and Mail (Toronto) Full Review
  • Richard Roeper

    While Penn and Teller certainly know how to tell a story, Tim’s Vermeer is at times a chore to sit through, even with a brisk 80-minute running time. We’re literally watching paint dry.

    Chicago Sun-Times Full Review
  • Michael O'Sullivan

    Tim’s Vermeer makes a convincing case that Vermeer could have painted the way Jenison says he did. It also makes a pretty powerful ancillary point: that some people are both geniuses and geeks.

    Washington Post Full Review
  • Michael Phillips

    It's an odd film, ultimately rewarding, because it's about an odd venture.

    Chicago Tribune Full Review
  • Bill Weber

    It chronicles the quest of a self-described "geek," and there are pleasurable frissons of discovery in the detective work.

    Slant Magazine Full Review
  • Lou Lumenick

    Highly entertaining documentary.

    New York Post Full Review
  • Noel Murray

    Tim’s Vermeer is more of an engineering lecture. And while it’s edifying in and of itself, it’s almost more fascinating because of the reasons it never transforms into anything else.

    The Dissolve Full Review
  • Marc Savlov

    With its brief running time and revelatory story, this neat, fascinating documentary ought to be required viewing for art history students everywhere.

    Austin Chronicle Full Review
  • Ben Kenigsberg

    This is all fascinating for art-history buffs, and while a documentary is the ideal vehicle for illustrating Jenison’s process, Tim’s Vermeer plays more like an extended PBS special than it does a movie.

    The A.V. Club Full Review
  • Roger Moore

    A fascinating documentary experiment in fathoming the heretofor “unfathomable” genius of Johannes Vermeer.

    McClatchy-Tribune News Service Full Review
  • Mike Scott

    An entertaining and interesting film, and one that speaks with a reasonable degree of credibility. And while that might not make it high art, it's good enough for me.

    New Orleans Times-Picayune Full Review
  • Joe Neumaier

    The result is cool and semi-comical, but also serious.

    New York Daily News Full Review
  • Eric Hynes

    The film ultimately plays less like an experiment than a demonstration of a tinkerer’s ingenuity. Tim’s finished Vermeer may resemble the real thing, but Tim’s Vermeer never tackles the true mystery of why the latter is actually incomparable.

    Time Out New York Full Review
  • Stephanie Zacharek

    Penn and Teller are bright guys, and their act can be fun in small doses. Yet Tim's Vermeer accentuates one of their worst impulses: They think they're mischievously raining on our parades when, really, they're not telling us much at all.

    Village Voice Full Review
  • Manohla Dargis

    Shooting in unattractive, hard-edge digital, Teller condenses Mr. Jenison’s years-long pursuit into 80 glib, alternately diverting, exasperating and tedious minutes.

    The New York Times Full Review
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