Often just one watt above tedious, this sluggish yet occasionally fascinating doco about Brit artist David Hockney and the creation of his California Pool paintings clashing with the breakup of the young man of his poolside fancies makes for maddening viewing. Maybe it should have been 80 minutes instead of 108. However what is there is always just about to be really interesting and perhaps now in 2011, forty years after filming it is a 'record of the time' as opposed to 'that boring documentary'. In a strange way I found the London flats and wet cold streets and domestic shuffling about on cold mornings or dull afternoons all quite evocative, and gave me a true feeling for 'that day there then' which I rather liked... but up until the point that each scene really went nowhere and Hockney's affected style and goggle glasses were almost just a stunt of his own life. It really is just a portrait of a very ordinary man who happens to be able to paint quite interesting early 70s imagery of his time.... and the fact that the film contains quite explicit nudity to zap it all awake occasionally. The California scenes at the pool are quite beautiful especially now they are 40 years ago, and offer a diversion from the grey London life. They also allow the great paintings to come to life, which is well realised. Jack Hazan, the producer and director clearly has created a quality film of excellent production values (35mm and good sound) and it is to him that the film actually belongs. One scene when Hockney slashes then cuts up one canvas will make art dealers scream with horror at the value being shredded. The film overall is a valentine to Hockney 1971-3 and viewed 40 years later is one of which they alone could be proud. I thought of Ken Russell and the era of his British film productions of the early 70s. It seemed to be the world Russell might also inhabit. I found A BIGGER SPLASH to be very pedestrian yet I wanted to watch it all to see if it got any more interesting. in the end it wasn't but I did get a strong feel of the times and place and I did like that... but that is Jack Hazan's work, not Hockney's. It is all really just a very well captured home movie of Brit life in cold flats in 1971.
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