Annie Leibowitz: Life Through A Lens (PG)

The ViewNewcastle Review

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Review byMatthew Turner13/02/2008

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 90 mins

Engaging documentary enlivened by a dazzling array of talking heads and some impressive behind-the-scenes footage.

What's it all about?
Opening with an amusing montage of famous people pronouncing her name two different ways (it's either Leibo-WITZ or Leibo-VITZ), Annie Leibowitz: Life Through A Lens is an engaging portrait of the celebrated American photographer, directed by her sister, Barbara. Unsurprisingly, Leibovitz has assembled a wealth of background material to cover her sister's life and career, including home movie footage, old family photographs, archive film and behind-the-scenes footage of Annie setting up some of her iconic photo-shoots.

The film traces Annie's life and career, from her first photographs, taken when she was an army brat in the Philippines during the Vietnam War, through to her long associations with both Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair, though, sadly, it doesn't get as far as her recent controversial portrait of the Royal Family. It's also surprisingly critical in places, touching on her stint in rehab as well as discussing her wildly over-the-top budgets and her occasionally obsessive working methods.

The Good
Where the film scores most highly is in its dazzling array of talking heads, all of whom give surprisingly revealing interviews. Highlights include: Yoko Ono talking about a famous portrait of her and John, taken just hours before John's death; Whoopie Goldberg laughing about being submerged in milk; Bette Midler remembering being covered in roses (and worrying about thorns); and Demi Moore discussing her two iconic Vanity Fair covers (naked and pregnant and naked with a painted-on suit).

The Bad
The most frustrating thing about the film is that it doesn't ask Annie the key question, namely, exactly where does she keep her own (presumably massive) collection of photos and negatives? Similarly, some of the images flash past so fast that you'll find yourself wishing you were watching the film on DVD so that you could pause and admire them properly.

Worth seeing?
In short, Annie Leibowitz: Life Through A Lens is an engaging, impressively illustrated portrait of one of America's most celebrated photographers. Worth seeing.

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Content updated: 12/05/2012 10:33

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