Entertainment » Movies

Hockney

by Phil Hall
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Friday Apr 22, 2016
'Hockney'
'Hockney'  

David Hockney is one of the most important British artists of modern times and is deserving of a documentary that pays tribute to his brilliant career. Randall Wright's production, however, is not really the work that Hockney deserves -- but since it is the one that he received, one can only excuse its flaws and try to piece together the artist's orbit through a less than compelling cinematic journey.

As a biographer, Wright's focus is closer to surface-shallow Wikipedia articles than in-depth examinations of the Ken Burns variety. We learn of Hockney's very humble Yorkshire upbringing and even pop in to see the tiny bedroom where he spent his youth. We learn something of his studies and what appears to have been a meteoric rise to fame. Hockney is a colorful figure in Swinging London during the 1960s -- his platinum blonde hair was inspired by a Lady Clairol hair dye commercial he saw on television during a New York sojourn -- but he ultimately relocated to ritzy Los Angeles, where he quickly became the favorite painter of the wealthy set.

As a biographer, Wright's focus is closer to surface-shallow Wikipedia articles than in-depth examinations of the Ken Burns variety.

Much of the film is devoted to gushy interviews with Hockney's friends, business associates and painting subjects. Initially, Wright's research and presentation gives the odd impression that Hockney never experienced any angst or setbacks in his life -- until the film puts aside its giddy hagiographic personality and abruptly becomes serious in its midsection with a focus on the artist's relationship with his lover Peter Schlesinger and the devastation brought to Hockney's circle by the AIDS tragedy.

As for Hockney himself, he turns up in a variety of interviews conducted at various points of his life. Wright uses a nonlinear editing technique that creates visual shocks as the older contemporary Hockney comments on subjects that are bumped up against the boyishly younger Hockney mugging for the camera. To his credit, the artist comes across as an affable raconteur, and his personal input gives this film a sense of humor and irony that is most absent in Wright's lamentable attempt to share the Hockney experience with the audience.

"Hockney"
Directed by Randall Wright
Not rated, 112 minutes, Film Movement

Phil Hall is the author of "The Greatest Bad Movies of All Time


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