Eames: The Architect and The Painter

This weekend I had the good fortune to see a film that, though of recent vintage, will appeal to those who appreciate the classics of design. Eames: The Architect and The Painter profiles the highly influential American designers Charles and Ray Eames, who participated in and influenced just about every form of art and design there is…print design, film, interiors, furniture, photography, packaging, toys, etc. This documentary is the first about the Eameses and, and as promised, traces “their personal lives and influence on significant events in American life – from the development of modernism, to the rise of the computer age.”

If you ever saw the film Powers of Ten (or one of the many versions that followed), you’ve seen the work of the Eameses. (If you haven’t seen it, take 9 minutes and watch it. It’s all the more mind-blowing when you realize it was made in 1977.) Charles and Ray were a married couple (not brothers, as I thought when I first read about them) who managed to combine life and work into one seamless existence. The film is pretty honest about the complexities of their relationship; among other issues, contemporary society’s perception of women left Ray in the background at times. But it is also a celebration of two uniquely American geniuses whose united creativity and resourcefulness yielded innovations that will live on forever. Highly recommended for design junkies, history buffs, and anyone who wants to understand how those super-cool chairs came to be.

The documentary is quite impressive on the big screen, but if you missed it in the theatre, you can still catch it on PBS as part of the American Masters series. It will on air on WTVS-56 on Monday, December 19 at 10 p.m.

Kudos are in order to Cass City Cinema (CCC) for picking Eames up for the only Detroit-area theatrical showing. CCC is a new venture set up in the same location as the Burton Theatre, a former elementary school in midtown Detroit. It’s only been open since Halloween but has featured some interesting films. It offers an appealing cinema experience in a small vintage auditorium, complete with hardwood floors and old-school seats, and fresh popcorn and Faygo or Mexican Coca-Cola to complete the scene. The staff are dedicated film bufffs and really interested in featuring what people want to see. Upcoming films include Gus Van Sant’s Restless showing November 25-27, and Christmas favorite Love Actually for Midtown Detroit’s Noel Night, December 3.

CCC is located at 3420 Cass Avenue in Detroit. Tickets are $5 and are available at the door a half-hour before showtime or online by using CCC’s contact form.

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