IT started, oddly enough, with an algebraic equation: X / c
onventional documentaries =
Frank Gehry</I> / conventional architecture
Not the typical jumping-off point for a Sydney Pollack film, but then in all the 40-odd films Pollack directed and/or produced, he had never taken on a full-length documentary. Much less one about a good friend who also happens to be the most famous living architect in the world.
"When Frank asked me to do it, I said, 'Frank, I'm not being coy — I don't know how to do it. I don't even go
to documentaries, I don't know anything about architecture.' And he said 'I know, that's why you're perfect.' " Pollack is echoing the words he uses to open "Sketches of Frank Gehry," a film that fulfills his initial equation by being less a portrait, which implies something static and complete, and more a window. Offering glimpses of the artist at work, the work he has done and the impact it has had, with commentary and anecdotes by various artists, architects and critics. (This being Pollack, we also get to hear the thoughts of Dennis Hopper, who lives in a Gehry house; Michael Eisner, who commissioned a Gehry building
; and Michael Ovitz who, um, collects art.)
The buildings too, many with the sketches that inspired them, are given time to "speak," from the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao to some of Gehry's less photographed work, including local houses and a cancer patient refuge in Scotland. Disney Hall
, of course, makes an appearance, at various stages of construction, lending "Sketches" a sense of movement and continuity.