These picture perfect films are a great way to learn more about famous art and artists as well as to travel back in time! Here are three of my all-time artistic favorites (plus a new release this week)…
3. Big Eyes (2014) – filmed in Vancouver, Canada and California & Hawaii, USA
The Story: Tim Burton's biopic Big Eyes is based on the real-life story of 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". It was the 1950s after all. Walter is a painter as well… or so he says, because actually Margaret never once has seen him doing a single brush. Instead, Walter is more interested in making big money out of his wife's big paintings with those big children's 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 also features 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…
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 Vancouver, British Columbia on the west coast of Canada.
My verdict: An inspiring biopic about art, relationships and a strong woman!
**** 4 out of 5 stars
2. Gambit (2012) – filmed in Albuquerque, USA and London, UK
The story: Colin Firth and Cameron Diaz are partners in crime in this hilarious comedy about a fake Monet. Harry Deane (Colin Firth) is a British art curator who decides to seek 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. At least that's what Lord Shabandar thinks. 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 climbs on top of the Savoy hotel 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 in London. Albuquerque, New Mexico was one of the main shooting locations for the Rodeo and Western scenes in America.
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!
**** 4 out of 5 stars
1. Girl with a Pearl Earring (2003) – filmed in Delft & Amsterdam, the Netherlands; Damme, Belgium and Luxembourg
The Story: Although a bit older now, this is clearly my all-time 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 romantic 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 several locations in Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, – including beautiful Delft in the south of the Netherlands, which was Jan Vermeer's real-life hometown.
My verdict: Watch it if you're a history and / or art lover, you will love the picture-perfect time warp!
***** 5 out of 5 stars
Coming up at cinemas worldwide:
The story: In 17th century the Netherlands, during the period of the tulip mania, a young artist (Dane DeHaan) is commissioned to paint the portrait of a young lady called Sophia (Alicia Vikander). Despite the fact that Sophia is married to a wealthy merchant (Christoph Waltz), she falls in love with the artist. Hoping to build a future together, the two lovers decide to invest in the risky tulip market.
Location spotting: The story is fictions and the film was mostly shot in Great Britain instead of the Netherlands, but I am sure that for real art and history lovers, this one will be a treat nevertheless!
Read the full film review in my new post Tulip Fever (2017) – filmed in the UK