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Sketches of Frank Gehry (2006)



Average Rating: 6.9/10
Reviews Counted: 78
Fresh: 63 | Rotten: 15

This affectionate, casually framed portrait of the acclaimed architect reveals him to be an engaging, likeable subject.


Average Rating: 6.9/10
Critic Reviews: 31
Fresh: 24 | Rotten: 7

This affectionate, casually framed portrait of the acclaimed architect reveals him to be an engaging, likeable subject.



liked it
Average Rating: 2.9/5
User Ratings: 18,889

My Rating

Movie Info

Frank Gehry is that rare kind of architect who has garnered both critical acclaim and popular recognition. His designs dramatically blur the line between art and architecture; his sketches and models are the basis for dynamic structures and unpredictable interiors. Gehry's friend, Sidney Pollack, directs this film; akin in nature to Gehry's own impromptu, free-hand style, the two men appear on film together, capturing this shy, elusive artist and illuminating his innovative process--including

Aug 22, 2006


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All Critics (80) | Top Critics (32) | Fresh (63) | Rotten (15) | DVD (7)

Pollack's documentary is a friendly affair that presents some stunning footage of several Gehry projects.

October 30, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
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A refreshingly small-scale film, almost a home movie made by the director of such films as Tootsie, Out of Africa and The Way We Were.

June 29, 2006 Full Review Source: Arizona Republic
Arizona Republic
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Not just instructive, but reassuring for anyone who does creative work, and who worries, as everyone does, about being equal to the task.

June 22, 2006 Full Review Source: Wall Street Journal
Wall Street Journal
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As fascinating and faceted as its subject.

June 22, 2006 Full Review Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
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What the filmmaker omits are precisely the laymen the movie set out to explain Gehry to.

June 16, 2006 Full Review Source: Toronto Star
Toronto Star
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What benefits the picture early on, giving it a casual air, becomes cloying in the later going, making it feel like a smug exercise in mutual admiration.

June 16, 2006 Full Review Source: Globe and Mail
Globe and Mail
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(...) Un documental que debería ver todo aquel que alguna vez haya sentido la necesidad o las ganas de crear algo, ya sea una pieza de cerámica, un edificio o una película.

October 13, 2007 Full Review Source: Uruguay Total
Uruguay Total

The result is a persuasive movie which proves beyond doubt that at least some geniuses are intensely practical as well as intuitive.

June 29, 2007 Full Review Source: This is London
This is London

While Pollack continually favours celebrity gush over objective analysis, the shots of Gehry's buildings - the Guggenheim in Bilbao being the centrepiece - and his stunning use of light do make a case for him as a genuine visionary.

June 29, 2007 Full Review Source: Independent

The questioning is skin-deep and Pollack's handheld DV approach doesn't show the buildings at their best.

June 29, 2007 Full Review Source: Total Film
Total Film

What's missing is a critical edge.

June 29, 2007 Full Review Source: Daily Telegraph
Daily Telegraph

an intelligent piece of partisan adoration - although he gives some space to Gehry's detractors, too.

June 29, 2007 Full Review Source: Guardian

Ultimately the picture is as revealing about the director as it is about the subject. But it won't appeal to those who like their documentaries to come armed with teeth.

June 29, 2007 Full Review Source: Times [UK]
Times [UK]

A fond and always accessible portrait, but the lack of objectivity and drooling images of Gehry's work deprives this documentary of any objectivity.

June 29, 2007 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

More a thumbnail than a full portrait.

June 26, 2007 Full Review Source:

too vague for real insight, too conventional to match its subject's iconoclasm, and too affectionate to offer a truly critical account of the Gehry phenomenon.

June 21, 2007 Full Review Source: Film4

[Pollack] and Gehry share a long friendship, which is evident in this elegant, diverting, affectionate documentary.

March 1, 2007 Full Review Source: Film Journal International
Film Journal International

Watching Frank work in his studio is a lesson in creativity. He seems to pride himself on buildings with no right angles; it all comes together to create facades that stand out in a skyline.

December 20, 2006 Full Review Source:

The film is a credit to Sydney Pollack, whose warm and intelligent style infiltrates this fascinating documentary allowing us the pleasure of spending some time with an architect whose approach to design is as fundamental as to life itself

November 10, 2006 Full Review Source: Urban Cinefile
Urban Cinefile

Sketches isn't for everyone, as enjoyment requires at least an elementary interest in architecture or art. Anyone who meets that requirement will receive not only a nice portrait of Gehry the person, but a great survey of his work.

October 9, 2006 Full Review Source: Reno Gazette-Journal

..curious and sometimes magical.

September 8, 2006 Full Review Source: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

... it's probably the best movie Pollack has made in awhile.

August 13, 2006 Full Review Source: Deseret News, Salt Lake City
Deseret News, Salt Lake City

A lovable softball documentary on a lovable acclaimed architect famous for his controversial unique looping indescribable structures.

August 12, 2006 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

An allusive and elusive tracing of the man and his work that also offers a rueful rumination on the artistic process.

August 10, 2006
Vue Weekly (Edmonton, Canada)

The film has lovely moments -- Gehry buildings can be extremely photogenic, after all -- but it doesn't sink its teeth in the way it probably should.

July 1, 2006 Full Review Source: Austin Chronicle
Austin Chronicle

Audience Reviews for Sketches of Frank Gehry

How to analyze a documentary? What to take into consideration? When most documentaries follow the same structure and format, and considering that the main objective was reached, the subject ends up being the determinant. At least, for me.

Frank Gehry is a Canadian architect who acquired both critical acclaim and popular recognition with unlike buildings that cross the lines between architecture and art, functionality and free creation. If you are not familiar with his work, I would say it reminds me of Franz Kakfa, the German Expressonism and Futurism (google Umberto Boccioni and Carlo Carrà and compare their work to the Gehry´s).

His expressionist postmodern architecture, I must say, doesn´t really appeal to me, although I realized that more than the shape, what makes big impact on me is the material. Having what I would call a conservative taste, I feel attracted to brick and stonework when steel, glass and metal keep me away. I like the MARTa Herford Museum, in Germany, that was clad in brick and stainless steel, as also the Dancing House, in Prague, but the Novartis Building (Switzerland), the Experience Music Project (Seattle) and the Walt Disney Concert Hall (LA) can call the attention of the eyes, but not of my heart: I don´t feel the impulse to explore such places.
Bringing it to the cinema, it´s like Monsieur Hulot´s house versus Arpel family´s house. The futuristic house from Jacques Tati´s film Mon Oncle is very formal and static (geometric) to could have been built by Gehry, but we can say it has some similar characteristcs: the fish-shaped fountain, for example, even though Gehry would make it much bigger. In the other hand, even being an ancient building, Monsieur Hulot´s "house" has a sort of chaos and movement that would attract Gehry and which charm and personality definitely attracts me.

What I most like about Gehry´s work is the whole process of creation, the "giving form" more than the form itself. Instead of the final product, I choose his sketches and mock-ups. The whole process is exciting and Sydney Pollack portraits it quite well what makes me wonder how to rate this documentary. Gehry´s work is interesting, but can this film please those who are not interested in architecture? I am not sure.

May 15, 2011

Super Reviewer

I met Sydney Pollack when he came to New Orleans to introduce and discuss this film. I actually worked at the mall where the cinema was, and I couldn't work up the nerve to say anything at the screening, but the next morning he came into my workplace and I got a tete-a-tete with someone who was very much an academic guide for film theory and history on top of being a brilliant director (with great taste in what colors to wear).

Anyways, this film. Yes. If you don't know Frank Gehry, just think of the oddest building you've ever seen and chances are it is or is derivative of Frank Gehry. For a reference point, Gehry did Bilbao Guggenheim and Seattle's Experience Music Project. Pollack and Gehry have long been friends, and the documentary was filmed as an independent project of Pollack's over the course of a few years and many meetings with his friend Gehry. The two talk of art, design, inspiration, and everyday stuff. Gehry explains his process as an architect. Pollack captures some stunning shots of Gehry's work for just using a handheld diigital. If you like to see a brilliant (and some will say odd) artist revealing the guts and marrow of his profession, this is the film for you.
February 10, 2008

Super Reviewer

Oh dear. Would could have been a fascinating insight into architectural design turns out to be a load of sentimental hero-worshipping clap-trap! A slide-show would have taught me more about Frank Gehry's work!
July 11, 2007

Super Reviewer

[font=Century Gothic]"Sketches of Frank Gehry" is an insightful documentary about noted architect Frank Gehry, the creative force behind such buildings as the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain; Walt Disney Concert Center and my personal favorite, the practice rink for the Anaheim Ducks. This is architecture that stands out from its surroundings, as it should, which is especially true for art museums which should look like works of art themselves. But unlike the architecture of Antonio Gaudi, Gehry's stresses the artificiality of the buildings as a way of showing how artificial all of humanity's creations really are. Along with his buildings(I would have liked to have seen more of the interiors), there are also thoughts on what drives him, the chaotic design process and his influences. Talking heads include colleagues, celebrities and critics.[/font]

[font=Century Gothic]"Sketches of Frank Gehry" is directed by Sydney Pollack who is also a friend of Gehry's. This is the first documentary he has made and he also appears in front of the camera on occasion which is always a tricky proposition for a documentary.(Werner Herzog being a main exception because of his captivating presence.) Here, it definitely hurts the movie, even though I can see that his intent was by having a filmmaker interview an architect, that it would give a broader look at the creative process but it does not come close to succeeding. [/font]
May 18, 2007
Walter M.

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  • Esquisses de Frank Gehry (FR)
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