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Portrait photographer Elsa Dorfman found her medium in 1980: the larger-than-life Polaroid Land 20x24 camera. For the next thirty-five years she captured the "surfaces" of those who visited her Cambridge, Massachusetts studio: families, Beat poets, rock stars, and Harvard notables. As pictures begin to fade and her retirement looms, Dorfman gives Errol Morris an inside tour of her backyard archive.
Normally I'm an avid fan of acclaimed documentary filmmaker Errol Morris (The Thin Blue Line, Gates of Heaven), but, to be honest, I was rather disappointed in this movie. It centers on the life and work of Elsa Dorfman, whose photographs using the large-format Polaroid technique have been praised for decades.
Dorfman recounts in her own words her history and her artistry, and I did find her honesty and sense of humor engaging. However, we only get a glimpse of her striking photographs of writers, poets, and celebrities and I felt the movie would have been better served with her relating her personal experience with these photos and the people in them. Also, it's only towards the last third of the doc that we see her work with ordinary folk , and it seemed to me there was more of a story to be told there, as well.
Although the film is only 1 hr. and 16 min. in length, the pacing was way too deliberate for my tastes, even getting tedious at times. Overall. I though there was a better tale to be told than what was presented in this doc unfortunately.
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