Having gone to art school I totally get the whole theme and genre of this fantastic romp into a coming of age character. Anyone that knows Laurie Simmons prolific career as a photographic artist understands that she is super creative and whimsical. From her vignettes to her miniature dolls she always has a sense of humor. Her first film and directorial debut, has that exact quality, a laugh out loud journey into an independent woman’s life, as she realizes her dream, and meets some interesting people along the way.
The premise in a nutshell: A 65-year-old single artist living in New York City has a good life: a stable teaching job, successful friends, and a loyal, aging dog named Bing. As her dream of a respectable place in the art world becomes more elusive, her frustration with her lack of recognition feels alarmingly urgent.
Picking up a camera, she starts to reenact old films, reinventing her identity and slowly enlisting the people around her to collaborate: a recent widower Frank (Robert Clohessy), a divorcee lawyer John (John Rothman) and young actor Tom (Josh Safdie). Parker Posey plays Tom’s less-than-enthusiastic girlfriend. Ellie then regains her creativity, remembering who she is and why it is that she creates. With ‘My Art,’ Simmons wants to show women her age that they can still live in the moment.
As they say the fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree, the amazing actress, writer, director, producer Lena Dunham is her daughter and makes a quick cameo in the film. After seeing the film and listening to their Q&A you understand why Lena Dunham has such a brilliant career; Girls on HBO is over now, but during its run it provided the viewer with a bold, brave look at sexuality, body image and her much cherished friends. Lena gets her bravery and creative edge from her Mothers experience and art.
Simmons wrote and directed “My Art,” There are lots of similarities between her character Ellie Shine and Laurie Simmons, but she wrote Ellie as a character for this movie, and makes it very clear that she is not Ellie in real life.
About Laurie Simmons:
Laurie Simmons is a successful, internationally recognized artist — her work is at the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim, the Whitney.
Laurie Simmons was born in Long Island, New York. She received a B.F.A. from the Tyler School of Art at Temple University in Philadelphia in 1971 and later moved to New York where she currently lives.
Since the mid 1970s, Simmons has staged scenes for her camera with dolls,
ventriloquist dummies, objects on legs and occasionally people, to create “images with intensely psychological subtexts”. Simmons’ first mature works, shot in 1976, were black and white images taken in a doll house, un-peopled variations on each room in the house, particularly the bathroom, using sunlight and different angles to create a “dazzling, dreamlike stage set”. Simmons had her first solo show at Artists Space, a non-profit gallery in New York, in 1979, showing the “Early Color Interiors”. A few months after this, she exhibited work at P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center. In 1980, Simmons began showing at the gallery Metro Pictures in New York. In the early 1980s, she created the series “Color-Coordinated Interiors”, which used Japanese dolls called Teenettes, monochrome toys of women who Simmons photographed in front of rear projection images of interior decorated rooms. Simmons had a mid-career retrospective at the Baltimore Museum of Art in 1997. In 2001, Simmons designed, with architect Peter Wheelwright, an interactive modernist doll house called the “Kaleidoscope House”. The house was decorated with miniature artwork and furniture by contemporary artists and designers. Also in 2001, Simmons began her “Instant Decorator” series, which was based on a 1976 interior decorating book of the same name, that provided templates of household rooms for the client to fill with swatches of fabric and paint samples. In 2008, Simmons collaborated with designer ‘Thakoon Panichgul’ to create fabrics for his Spring 2009 line. Simmons also used objects on legs in her series, “Walking & Lying Objects”, from the late 1980s.
Simmons starred in a feature-length film by her daughter, Lena Dunham, called Tiny Furniture (2010), which was filmed in 2009 and was featured at the South by Southwest film festival in 2010. The film won the Jury Prize for Best Narrative Feature.
This is a film to see, it is an exciting journey for the characters and the viewer.
* Note some content was taken off of their website