Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Impassioned Eye
Time Out says
Marked by a timidity that's deeply at odds with its globe-roaming subject, Heinz Btler's dull profile of photojournalist Henri Cartier-Bresson will almost certainly get you yawning, despite its relatively brief running time. It's a complete catalog of the pitfalls of uninspired biography: long, undifferentiated shots of the nonagenarian flipping through prints of his own work; close-ups of the prints themselves; and surprisingly dry testimony from the likes of Isabelle Huppert and Arthur Miller, whose movie-star wife once sat for a classic snap that penetrated her iconic glamour.
Cartier-Bresson's work, of course, is stunning: absorbingly geometrical in composition, sly in humor and uncannily tender. But this we already know. How about some insights into the artist's working methods, his nose for strong subjects, his political or personal convictions? None are offered and it's a shame. Completed shortly before Cartier-Bresson's death in 2004, the documentary scores a coup simply by having access to its notoriously withdrawn subject, a privilege Btler treats too gingerly. Why did the photographer leave the field so abruptly in the '70s to focus on drawing? How could a figure so linked to lefty causes (the Spanish Front, Gandhi's campaign for independence, etc.) not be pressed to reflect on the process of watching them unfold? Ultimately, a trip to MoMA's superb collection of prints would better serve both the neophyte and the fan. Take in a picture; it'll last longer. (Opens Fri; Quad.)—Joshua Rothkopf