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Gregory Crewdson: Brief Encounters

By REBECCA JACOBSON
[TWO NIGHTS ONLY] The photographer Gregory Crewdson has been described as “Norman Rockwell meets Norman Bates.” Like Rockwell, Crewdson captures small and ordinary moments of American life. But where Rockwell’s paintings feel cheerful and warm, Crewdson’s photos exude mystery, melancholy and alienation: a married couple, half-undressed, in opposite corners of the bedroom. A mother and daughter, both caught in sleeplessness. An old man, bathrobe falling open, trapped listless in the glow of a TV screen. Though his images don’t go totally Hitchcockian—for one photo, he models the bathroom after Psycho, but you won’t find blood or expressions of terror—there’s an eerie desolation that jibes with Hitchcock’s evocation of anxiety and discomfort. Ben Shapiro’s documentary immerses the viewer in this strange and particular world. Crewdson’s shoots are elaborately and meticulously staged affairs that can cost as much as an independent film, and Shapiro shows both Crewdson’s obsessive eye for detail and his affable attitude on the set. There’s a transfixing sequence during which Crewdson photographs a mother and her newborn, who delays the shoot by crying for hours, and another during which Crewdson and crew cross their fingers for a snowstorm. As obsessively staged as Crewdson’s tableaux may be, it’s these moments that remind us of the uncertainty—and resulting wonder—of artistic creation.
 

Special Note

NW Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium. 7:30 pm Friday and 7 pm Saturday, Aug. 23-24
 
  • Genres: Documentary
  • Running Time: 77 minutes
  • Country: United States
  • Language: English
  • Critic's Score: B
  • Directed by: Ben Shapiro [Director], Ben Shapiro [Producer], Dana Kaproff [Original Music], Ben Shapiro [Cinematographer], Nancy Kennedy [Film Editor], Tom Patterson [Film Editor], Ben Shapiro [Film Editor]
  • Watch the trailer
 

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