Friday, April 26, 2013

Bert Stern: Original Madman

"Bert Stern: Original Madman" introduces us to the Hollywood photographer Bert Stern, who started as an advertising photographer and pioneered the concept of the modern ad photo with the primacy of its single image. (Until he came along, ad photos were basically illustrative, often consigned to the spare space not consumed by the dominant text.)

Stern's campaign for Smirnoff made the U.S. a vodka-drinking country. He gained fortune and fame as a celebrity photographer, most notably for his last sitting with Marilyn Monroe at the Hotel Bel-Air. Throughout his life, his view of women - that beauty is power, that women rule the world and men are mere slaves - created timeless photographs but disconnected and disharmonious personal relationships. The pictures themselves are the primary reason to see "Bert Stern," as well as a few of Stern's more humorous anecdotes. But it's not much of a feature-length film, and the last 20 minutes in particular have that familiar, repeating feeling of, "That's not really an ending, but I sure hope they end it here."

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