Fur at the Fillmore movie theater

After seeing the film Shortbus, I consistently reminded everyone around me that one of the many great things about living in San Francisco is that we are one of the few cities which receives limited-release films as soon as they are ready to be seen. Another related benefit which I frequently find myself enjoying in this city is the opportunity to view Sneak Preview films.

Since I have been here, three different friends have invited me to see unreleased films at no charge using free tickets they got from here or there. Last night, this kind of “only in SF” luck led me to seeing “Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus” which played in preview at the Clay Theater on Fillmore.
At the end of the movie, the friend who had invited me asked what I had thought of it, and I found that, in contrast to my usual readiness to spew words, I wasn’t really sure that I had anything to say about the film. In some ways, I had been completely entranced while watching it. In others, I had been astoundingly restless. I wasn’t sure what this meant about my opinion of the movie. But after waking up this morning and realizing that I was still mulling over it in my mind, I could clearly see that the film had made a deep impression upon me.

“Fur” is a movie inspired by the work of photographer Diane Arbus (played by Nicole Kidman who looks amazingly young in the film), a mid-twentieth century photographer who captured the lives of eclectic people living on the fringes of society. (And though it’s set in New York, what topic is better than that for San Francisco?!) The film is not meant to be a biography, but rather something of a daydream about what may have inspired this woman to take the path that she did with her photography. At heart, the story is simultaneously a love story and the story of a highly independent and creative woman who chose her own life over love in many forms.

As a film, the movie is unique from most others. It focuses highly on the theme of photography and relies heavily on visuals, making it a movie with very little dialogue and one which requires your rapt attention to the screen in order to follow the developing story. The requirement for such attention is intensified by the fact that the characters in this film don’t behave – or even communicate – in a way which is logical or expected. If you close your eyes, and drift in to your own thoughts for a moment, you are immediately lost. And yet, even without being sure where the story is going, the images on the screen are so compelling that your attention is re-focused again and again.

Even still, I have not come to a conclusion about my personal opinion of the movie. I think that my own preference for multi-tasking and inability to sit still for long periods of time made it difficult for me to watch it. But I also think that it was a film which was original through and through – from the slant on the story to the methods used to convey the emotions of each character. I do know that I think it’s a must-see for all creative people, and especially for women who sometimes struggle with balancing their artistic inclinations with their emotional entanglements. You may not come out of it knowing that you loved it, but it is undeniably a beautiful movie and certainly one which you will not forget as soon as you exit the theater.

“Fur” will begin playing at the Embarcadero Theatre on November 17, 2006.

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