The Writer's Life: Film & Book Reviews, Observations, and Stories
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Waiting for Hockney

As the title suggests, Waiting for Hockney is a documentary about an artist who spent eight years on a drawing of Marilyn Monroe and then sought David Hockney’s blessing. Of course, even on the face of it, this is absurd. Although Hockney has been fascinated with photography at times, his interest is in extending it beyond the static image. He often cuts them up into rectangles and creates landscape montages. Hockney despises the idea that you can create an exact replica of something with the camera, so getting his blessing for a super-realistic portrait of Marilyn was doomed from the start.

Why someone would spend eight years on a drawing and, through this, seek to create a name for himself in the art world is the real story of the film. Though very sympathetic to the artist, the documentary suggests that his quest is more about fame than art. In a sense, this is typically American—the failed attempt at hitting a home run that leaves you $300,000 in debt and working as a bartender-waiter in a bar and grill in your late thirties. In another sense, though, it is also the story of every artist, anyone who has ever had a dream of creating a novel or series of paintings that touches a chord with the public. From this perspective, the film is both instructive and sad.