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Movie Review: Alice Neel

Alternate Title: Painting to a Different Drummer

Story: What makes a documentary film rise above the rest? Clinically, it should present its subject matter (political, social, or historical) in a factual and informative manner accompanied by news films, photos or interviews. This wonderful film about the painter, Alice Neel does all of that and oh so very much more.

Alice Neel had a personal artistic vision. She lived in turbulent times (1900 to 1984), through emotional stress, poverty, passions of the heart and soul, loss and mental disease - yet she continued to paint. She stayed true to her style as a portrait artist while others celebrated the abstract, the Pop, the Op and the au courant.

Her grandson, Andrew Neel paints this portrait of his amazing grandmother with his camera his lens. Interviews with her two adult sons are revealing and personal. We get to see actual footage of Alice Neel painting and playing to the camera. She was not recognized until very late in her life and was celebrated with a huge show at the Whitney Museum of Art shortly before her death.

Go to see this film if you can and be all the more richer for experiencing it.

To see some of her wonderful soulful portraits go to: http://www.aliceneel.com/main.html

Acting: Not a valid category in documentary films.

Predilection: I love films about artists and I am a big Alice Neel fan.

Critters: Pigeons.

Food: Bread Crumbs.

Soundtrack: Appropriate

Opening Titles: Titles come directly after a short sequence of us watching Alice Neel painting a portrait.

Visual Art: An astounding number of her pieces, often juxtaposed with the person in the painting.

Theater Audience: Pretty crowded.

Sappy Factor: 0

Quirky Meter: 0

Squirm Scale: 0

Drift Factor: I could not take my eyes off of the screen for a moment.

Tissue Usage: 0

Oscar Worthy: Why not?

Big Screen or Rental: I like films about artists. For some other good ones try renting: My Architect, Vincent and Theo, Basquiat, Pollock, I Shot Andy Warhol, Crumb, Artemisia, Surviving Picasso and Frida

Length: 90 minutes