These picture perfect films are a great way to learn more about art and sometimes even to travel back in time! Here are three of my all-time favorites:
3. Big Eyes (2014) – filmed in Canada and the USA
Tim Burton's biopic Big Eyes is based on the great, real-life story about the female painter Margaret Keane (Amy Adams) and her controlling second husband Walter Keane (Christoph Waltz). She married Keane because she had just run away from her first husband with her daughter and saw Keane as "a blessing". Walter was a painter as well, but not a very successful one so he saw a lot of dollar signs when he realized the selling potential of this wife's artworks.
Margaret Keane almost always painted people, usually girls, with immensely big eyes. I really liked this film because it's an amazing biopic as well as an intriguing time travel escape into the 1950s. It gets pretty dramatic, but there are also many funny scenes including the court scene at the end when the judge asks Walter and Margaret to paint in order to determine who lied. You can probably imagine how this one ended… but I'm not going to tell anymore. See for yourself!
Location Spotting: In addition to San Francisco and Los Angeles in California as well as the immensely beautiful Waikiki, O'ahu, Hawaii, USA, many scenes have been shot in the city of Vancouver, British Columbia on the west coast of Canada.
My verdict: A great tale about art, relationships and a strong woman!
2. Gambit (2012)
Colin Firth and Cameron Diaz are partners in crime in this hilarious comedy about a fake Monet filmed in Albuquerque, New Mexico and London, UK.
The story in short: Harry Deane (Colin Firth) is a British art curator who decides to see revenge on this abusive boss Lord Shabandar (Alan Rickman) by making him buy a fake Monet painting. The actual painting has been missing since 1945 as it was plundered by the Nazis. He teams up with a master art forger (Tom Courtenay) and travels to Alpine, Texas to find rodeo queen PJ Puznowski (Cameron Diaz) whom he plans to recruit in his scheme.
I thought the film was better than its trailer suggests, especially the scene in which Firth clambers about on top of the Savoy in London in merely his undies!
Location Spotting: Much of the film's action takes place in the UK, for example Colin Firth's underwear balcony scene at the Savoy Hotel, Strand, London, England, UK. The Southern US states were playing an important too, of course. Thus, Albuquerque in New Mexico was an important shooting location, too.
My verdict: See this if you want to see Colin Firth in his undies, Cameron Diaz talking in the broadest Southern accent or just to laugh at all those funny scenes!
1. Girl with a Pearl Earring (2003)
My favourite film about art! When you watch this film it's as if you step right into the famous painting itself. Girl with a Pearl Earring tells the fictional, but perhaps likely story that a 17-year-old maidservant in the house of painter Johannes Vermeer was the in fact the model and muse for his famous portrait.
I have read the book and seen this film many times over. Every time I watch it I feel as if I am actually in Delft, Holland during the 17th century. Everything in it is so real and so quiet… not at all like the typical Hollywood action movie. Colin Firth (again!) is superb as always as the master painter Vermeer. Scarlett Johansson as the shy, submissive and yet curious maid looks so much like the girl in the original painting that she makes it easy for us to believe this story.
Everything is fired up of course by the fact that Vermeer's wife (pregnant with the 8th child or so) is extremely jealous when she starts to suspect some kind of relationship between the maid and her husband…
Location Spotting: This film has been shot at many original locations, including the beautiful Luxembourg, Delft in the south of the Netherlands as well as Damme in Belgium.
My verdict: Watch it if you're a history and / or art lover, you will love the picture-perfect time warp!