Film

Da Vinci Hams for the Camera in Inside the Mind of Leonardo 3D

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An actor (Peter Capaldi) plays Leonardo da Vinci, standing before exposed brick, intently hamming at a 3-D movie camera, spouting words set down long ago in the real da Vinci’s notebooks, truths about perspective and nature that the actor, who is game, speaks like he’s just now figuring them out, the same way he might if this goof/stunt of a movie were instead a detective drama and he was putting together the clues that break the case open: To draw hair you must study water!

Cut from that discovery to marvelous shots of waterfalls, the camera gliding above and under the cascade. That stuff, like the montages of steelworks and some of da Vinci’s illustrations, are so marvelous you can almost forgive the way director Julian Jones builds to the Mona Lisa like it’s a punchline we can’t see coming — or the way the great man himself, or at least his embodiment here, just stands there declaiming in front of that wall like it’s dramatic-monologue night at the Improv.