A film by Jason Cohn & Bill Jersey
Narrated by James Franco
Distributor: First Run Features
Run Time: 84 minutes
Release Date: November 18, 2011 at IFC Center
The new documentary film, EAMES: The Architect and The Painter, is a pleasant introduction into the world of American modernism, demonstrated through the playful workings of Charles and Ray Eames. For anyone without in-depth knowledge of the two designers (often the layman believes that Eames was just one person or that Ray was a man), the film gives an information-packed entry into a body of work that goes beyond just the well-known Eames chair. For established Eames fans, appreciation will come through insight into the inner workings of the “Eamery,” the 901 Washington Boulevard studio and office in Venice, California, heard through the voices of designers like Deborah Sussman or Jeannine Oppewall, both of whom had the coveted position to be employed there.
Additionally, filmmakers Jason Cohn and Bill Jersey add a layer of personal texture into the documentary of an otherwise private couple, presenting such items like love letters Charles wrote to Ray, and a swath of scribbled notes that Ray amassed over the years. They even touch upon Charles’ affair with art historian Judith Wechsler, who is a featured interviewee in the film. The extensive video and photographic footage of the Eames and their landmark Pacific Palisades house, along with clips from their films like “The Information Machine” for IBM from 1957 and the “Powers of Ten” from 1968, demonstrate how the Eames were ahead of their time in their presentations and thoughts about the distribution of information.
Overall, EAMES makes clear how the creative pair were, most of all, successful communicators as designers; they looked at each project, not as how to create art, but how to solve a problem.