Garry Winogrand: All Things are Photographable (NR)

Documentary 90 min. September 19, 2018
By Sam Weisberg
Artists often leave behind unreleased works, which friends and relatives then curate. Iconic photographer Garry Winogrand, who died from cancer in 1984, never even processed thousands of photos from his twilight years; at the end, he was as much a stranger to these pictures as the public. It's the type of bitter joke that Winogrand, with his gruff, Bronx-bred squawk and self-effacing humor, would howl at.

Sasha Waters Freyer's Garry Winogrand: All Things are Photographable is an elegant, tender ode to Winogrand, but it's no hagiography. He is still venerated for his fly-on-the-wall capturing of New York City, Hollywood and small-town Texas street scenes during the 1960s and '70s. But several of the same contemporaries and proteges that praise these photos dismiss later ones as misogynistic or just plain clunky. Fortunately, the film offers new, enlightened viewpoints. Matthew Weiner of Mad Men fame, for instance, sees Winogrand's collection of families at the zoo as a meditation on male loneliness (Winogrand was twice-divorced at the time of publication). And the much-lambasted 1975 photobook Women are Beautiful -- which many found leering -- is commended by some interviewees for depicting women as eccentric and bold, rather than vulnerable.

Freyer zeroes in meticulously on Winogrand's dichotomies: a grabby, workaholic husband yet a gentle, ever-present father; a man whose soul ached from the sociopolitical malaise of his time, yet whose pictures decidedly lacked easy moralism. As expected, though, the photos are the high point, and you'll likely not tire of them. The standout: a wide shot of a beachside family BBQ, at once hellish and idyllic, like the final oasis in an irradiated, white sands desert.
Sasha Waters Freyer Geoff Dyer, Jeffrey Fraenkel, Susan Kismaric, Erin O'Toole, Tod Papageorge Greenwich Entertainment

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