Film: Gregory Crewdson: Brief Encounters

In the history of art there is no one else quite like photographer Gregory Crewdson, whose beautiful and often haunting images of small town America aren’t found, but meticulously constructed in every detail and the new documentary on his life and work Gregory Crewdson: Brief Encounters by Ben Shapiro examines the nature of perfectionism and imperfection.

This film is an excellent biographical artist documentary, thanks to its focus on the process of creating art and the connections between the artist’s life and work but it’s also palatable for wider audiences in part due to the exquisite imagery in Crewdson’s work which is translated through Lewin’s lens.  The details are fascinating even for someone who’s not aware of Crewdson’s photographs because Lewin manages to close in on Crewdson’s exhaustive method for creating a single image which can cost thousands of dollars to produce over shoots that go on for days.  The documentary was filmed over a decade and covers a wide breadth of great work, including the Beneath The Roses series which was created almost entirely in and around the towns of Pittsfield and Lee in Massachusetts.

There are a number of artists and writers who speak about Crewdson’s work and give insight such as: Rick Moody, Russell Banks, and Laurie Simmons (who also taught Crewdson and was one of his inspirations). Crewdson’s “search for a perfect moment” is engrossing and gorgeous and his dedication to detail and construction of images is something that is quickly disappearing in this modern world of iPhones and Instagram.

Gregory Crewdson: Brief Encounters is playing at Film Forum now.

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About Tim Needles

Tim Needles is an artist, photographer, humorist, and writer from Long Island, NY. His writing and art work has been seen in multiple exhibitions and publications around New York as well as the Photographer’s Forum, French Photo, the New York Times, and LI Pulse magazine. He is also an educator and currently teaches art and film at Smithtown, NY and as an Education Leader for Adobe. He was recently the recipient of the Robert Rauschenberg Award in Washington DC and serves as the director of Strictly Students, a non-for-profit group for media and education. His work can be seen on his website: www.timneedles.com
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