From Canvas to Screen: 5 Easy-to-Watch Films About Art

Sometimes all you want is a movie that’s not going to need too much concentration, but still want a little bit of culture. Unsurprisingly, when it comes to “culture” the bluethumb team usually looks to art first, so from conspiracy theories to time travel to plain old romance, we thought we’d offer a few suggestions for easy-to-watch films on the subject. You can even watch these while you’re doing other things – say, creating your next masterpiece, or browsing bluethumb for someone else’s!

Midnight in Paris

One of the lighter and more sentimental of Woody Allen’s works, Midnight in Paris transports its main and very earnest character, Gil (Owen Wilson), back in time to Paris in the roaring ’20s. There, he delights in meeting all his favourite giants of modern art and literature in Gertrude Stein’s literary salon, including Picasso, Hemingway and Salvador Dali. Gil relishes the chance to indulge his deep nostalgia for a bygone era and escape the sterility of his personal life, and really, so do we – the fun of the film lies in its immersive quality as it recreates the past in all its glamour, yet also renders its characters as surprisingly down-to-earth.

You should watch it: If you’ve ever imagined having a G&T with Zelda Fitzgerald or falling for one of Picasso’s mistresses. Also, Owen Wilson.

Rating: Three and a half wholehearted utterances of amazement/5.

mip1Gil seems too enchanted by Picasso’s mistress Adriana to question the presence of so many ducks. Source: The Motion Pictures.net

Bean: The Movie

Built around Rowan Atkinson’s iconic portrayal of the bumbling Mr Bean, Bean: The Movie, is about a well meaning yet incompetent security guard at the National Gallery in London, who is assigned to oversee the transfer of priceless painting Whistler’s Mother to the Grierson Art Gallery in Los Angeles under the more impressive guise of “Dr Bean”. Given his false yet impressive professional record, Bean is invited to stay with the gallery curator, David Langley, who suffers the brunt of Bean’s chaos throughout his stay, but also reaps the most reward when he manages to fix his mistakes and then some in his usual, clumsy manner. The highlight of the film is probably Bean’s ruination and then salvation of the very painting under his charge – no spoilers, but the answer is easier than you might think!

You should watch it: In case you ever end up destroying a priceless, world famous artwork and need a way out.

Rating: Three and a half ungodly catastrophes/5.

flat,800x800,070,fThe peak of disaster? You’ll have to watch the movie and find out if Bean can fix this one! Source: Redbubble

The Da Vinci Code

Based on Dan Brown’s 2003 detective novel by the same name, The Da Vinci Code is a conspiracy-based mystery thriller about the alleged bloodline of Christ and his apostle Mary Magdalene (the films also concentrates on the legend of the holy grail, which it claims to be Mary’s bones, but many people see the grail as synonymous with the bloodline). The film opens with a murder of one of the Louvre’s curators, and it is ultimately art – Da Vinci’s, of course – that holds the key to the ancient and highly staked mystery. The film has predictable proportions of code-breaking, action and romance and a black-and-white battle between good and evil; unlike The Last Supper, it’s no work of artistic genius, but the mystery is fun and if you like art conspiracies it’s one you need to tick off.

You should watch it: If you’ve ever felt that Mona Lisa’s secrets go beyond feminine mystique or you like a good psychopath chase.

Rating: Two and a half conspiracy theorists/5.

maxresdefaultDon’t mess with symbologists, people. Source: Youtube

Girl with a Pearl Earring

A well acclaimed period piece, Girl with a Pearl Earring is the filmic adaptation of Tracy Chevalier’s novel, which imagines the relationship between painter Johannes Vermeer and a possible subject of the Pearl Earring painting, a servant girl called Griet. The film sees the pair’s relationship slowly grow, as Vermeer secretly encourages Griet’s love for art away from his wife’s jealous sight and eventually paints her portrait, as commissioned to do so by his rich yet creepy patron. While the story is relatively simple, the film is beautifully shot, and its cinematography imitates the lighting and colour schemes of Vermeer’s work.

You should watch it: If you’re after some 17th century sexual tension that’s thick enough to be cut with a palette knife.

Rating: Four urgent glances/5.

girl-with-a-pearl-earring-2003Griet, played by Scarlett Johansson, having her ear pierced in order to don the famous pearl earring. Source: Gareth Rodes Film Reviews

Art School Confidential

Art School Confidential follows its main character, Jerome, to his freshman days at “art school”, where he unsurprisingly finds a variety of arty stereotypes such as masochistic performance artists, beautiful life models, stoner ceramicists and old, jaded graduates. Sort of randomly, a serial killer “the Strathmore Strangler” is also wandering around the town, and this provides the film’s latter events as Jerome gets himself mixed up in the investigation. This one’s slightly more left of field, however, it’s a fun, dark twist on some arty archetypes and student life in general.

You should watch it: If you yourself have been to art school, or are simply seeking a bit of coming-of-age nostalgia.

RatingThree and a half tortured artists/5.

untitled-12Being an art student is all about experimentation, and yes, sometimes pain. Source: Art in the Movies

Winner of the bluethumb Art Prize People’s Choice Award