MicroCinema // 2010 // 60 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge James A. Stewart (Retired) // April 2nd, 2011
"You don't have enough walls."
Max Ernst Hanging is easy to sum up: Curator Dominique de Menil takes charge of a Max Ernst art exhibit at Houston's Rice University in 1973. She starts out by playing "like a dollhouse" with a scale model of the gallery to make sure the paintings and sculptures are in the right place, directs workmen through the actual setup, and picks out plants and photographs to enhance the showing. The movie wraps up with the opening reception, with the surrealist artist Ernst in attendance.
Dominique's work was filmed by her son Francois de Menil, and the film was edited by her grandson John de Menil more recently.
You've probably figured out by now that Max Ernst Hanging will appeal mainly to artists and those involved in exhibitions. That said, it's put together well, touching on just about everything Domenique does. An optional introduction by art historian and Ernst friend Rosamond Bernier puts the exhibit in perspective; take advantage of this option if you watch.
Picture quality isn't perfect; the color film is faded, and there are lines and scratches. However, it gets the job done. Sound quality is poor, but John de Menil helpfully anticipated that and provided a subtitle option.
John de Menil's commentary, with friend Kevin Hooper and a brief appearance by Ron Boseman (the sound guy on the 1973 art shoot and, later, the producer of the original The Texas Chainsaw Massacre), has some interesting tidbits, but also has moments that just feel like filling dead air. More information on Ernst and his grandmother's work at the ready would have been helpful.
It's not for everybody -- or even most people -- but if you're a budding art curator looking to find out what you'll be doing when you bloom, Max Ernst Hanging is a good place to check it out.
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Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English, French)
Running Time: 60 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* The Menil Collection