I love movies. Maybe even as much as photography. Being a fan of movies means I am also a fan of movie lists, because they help me to discover films I may not have seen. Also, with my being a mildly OCD photographer, I began thinking about which films relate to photography. There are surprisingly few that I have seen or heard of. So I decided to compile a list of my ten favorites, in ascending order. Note that this list is in no way exhaustive, so please add your suggestions in the comment section below.
10. One Hour Photo- This is a dark thriller, starring Robin Williams as a one-hour photo clerk at a Walmart who stalks a family whose rolls of film he regularly develops. Though the film doesn't center on the act of taking pictures, it certainly deals with the photos we take and how they are interacted with. Plus Williams is fantastic in it.
9. High Art- An art house film that is moody and beautifully shot. It centers on a female photographer and a female reporter that captures her love and attention. Inspiration ensues.
8. Rear Window- Similar to One Hour Photo, Rear Window is less about the act of photography but takes place in the realm of image taking and people watching. This time the main character is a photographer on disability who, in his hours of bored window watching, sees what he thinks to be a crime. A classic.
7. Closer- Julia Roberts plays a successful portrait photographer who gets caught up in a love triangle with Jude Law and Clive Owen. There is only a little bit of photography that takes place in the film, but it is beautifully shot and an accurate depiction of the process.
6. Pecker- Warning. This is a John Waters film. That means weirdness is rampant. But so is hilarity. Edward Furlong plays the "next big thing" type of photographer. He can do no wrong. Coming from art school, the cynical tongue-in-cheek treatment of the art world is surprisingly spot on.
5. Blow-Up- A classic. Filmed in the 60's, fashion photographer Thomas, played by David Dennings, when developing prints from his outdoor photo shoot, discovers that he has incidentally captured a murder in the background.
4. Proof- A relatively unknown film. Hugo Weaving plays a blind photographer who has his photos described to him by a friend, played by Russell Crowe. This sounds like a gimmick, but it is beautifully acted and photographed.
3. Under Fire- Nick Nolte plays a wartime photojournalist, stationed in Nicaragua. One of the more technically sound portrayals of a working photographer.
2. Born Into Brothels- This is actually a documentary. Two filmmakers go into the brothels of Calcutta and hand out cameras to the child prostitutes. They encourage them to shoot their lives, which result in them having a gallery opening in NYC. This is simultaneously heartbreaking and inspiring. A must see for everyone- not just photographers.
1. City Of God- A fictional portrayal of two boys growing up in the favelas of Brazil. One of the boys grows up to be a photographer and the other, a drug dealer. Not only the best photography film, IMO, but also one of my favorite films.
Honorable mentions- Fur-an imagined biopic of of photographer Diane Arbus, who is played by Nicole Kidman. Guinevere- A story of a photographer (Stephen Rea) and his student/subject/lover, played by Sarah Polley. Smoke- Though this is not a photography film, there is a thread in the movie where Harvey Keitel's character takes a photo of the street corner outside of his cigar shop everyday for decades. It's an incredibly moving scene.