'Sketches of Frank Gehry'

Endearingly malleable: Gehry's DZ Bank, Berlin
photo: Fernando Gomez/Sony Pictures Classics
Endearingly malleable: Gehry's DZ Bank, Berlin

Insider journalism several times over, this enjoyably breezy portrait of genius architect Frank Gehry is drawn doodle-style by first-time documentarian Sydney Pollack, a Hollywood player with ready access to impartial testimony from patron saint moguls (Diller, Eisner, Ovitz) and a close friend of the subject for 30 years. Narrating in the first person, Pollack claims identification not only with the architect's artistic anxiety ("avoidance, delay, denial"), but with his challenge to achieve personal expression despite commercial restraints (i.e., the monumental Guggenheim in Bilbao is Gehry's The Way We Were, the Santa Monica Place Mall his Havana, Sabrina, Electric Horseman, Random Hearts, et al.). The friends tread lightly on one another's soft spots, including the source of Gehry's 1950s name change from Goldberg, and the admiration becomes infectious in the visual exploration of Gehry's perverse body of work, whose curves and crevices Pollack's camera seems to caress like a lover. The sensual mood seems to turn even talking heads into construction sites while both men appear as endearingly malleable structures: Gehry as the cubist hockey fan, alternately arrogant and shy, bossy and passive; Pollack as equally privileged and ordinary, neurotic and gregarious.

 
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