For a man whose work is as timeless as photographer Bert Stern’s, the title of his documentary kowtows almost disappointingly to current concerns … but for understandable reasons.
Bert Stern: Original Madman very obviously draws its title from the AMC series, now not just a critical darling but a ratings powerhouse and a four-time Emmy winner for Best Drama Series.
The connection? Well, mostly that Stern was one of the foremost image-makers of the jet-setting early 1960s, changed the direction of photography, and inched the two discrete worlds of art and commerce ever closer together.
His campaign for Smirnoff turned Cold War America onto Russia’s dominant tippler of choice. His photo shoot of Marilyn Monroe — the star’s last, as it turned out, as she died mere weeks later — is the stuff of legend. His lollipop-sucking one-sheet for Stanley Kubrick’s 1962 masterpiece Lolita is as indelible an image as any Kubrick himself managed.
(And, incidentally, his 1959 film Jazz on a Summer’s Day — a document capturing a legendary line-up of musicians playing the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival — is one of the breeziest musical movies ever.)
Stern’s photography is so distinctive, and his personality so (self-admittedly) connected to those images, that it’s a little disappointing that the documentary detailing his life and times looks so comparatively perfunctory. Not that you’ll much care, given Stern’s juicy, womanizing episodes.
Bert Stern: Original Madman plays in Theater 3 at 7:30 p.m.
Other Highlights: Friday, April 13
The Dreileben Trilogy. It’s the first full day of movie feasting. Why not tackle a trilogy fresh out of the gate? With shades of the Red Riding saga, the Dreileben films are psychological thrillers with an expansive scope. (Theater 5; first installment begins at 5:30 p.m.)
Hope. It’sClass of 1984 all over again as a guidance counselor throws out the rule book in his efforts to curb juvenile delinquency in this Minnesota-made dark comedy. Filmmakers present. (Theater 1; 7 p.m.)
V/H/S. Early reports on this omnibus horror film holds that it made festival audiences puke. They always say that, for the record, but bring along a baggie to be safe. (Theater 3; 10 p.m.)
For more of the WCCO Movie Blog’s coverage on the MSPIFF, click here.