Apparently 2014 is going to be the year of the photography documentary. With the beautifully charming documentary Finding Vivian Maier still making the rounds in limited release, a new documentary taking a deeper look at yet another street photographer, this time one that is still very much putting out new and vital pieces of work.
Matt Weber may not be a household name, but for the photography world, he’s a relative giant within his artform. A former taxi driver with a passion for photography that has since turned into three decades worth of some of today’s greatest street photography, Weber is a legend within his medium, and a new documentary has been made attempting to capture his art, his life and his influence. Entitled More Than The Rainbow, this new documentary attempts to not only get the story of this man’s life from the man who lived it, but in turn elaborate upon it by not only adding various interviews with men and women both close to and influenced by Weber, but also spurn the discussion into something far greater. And that’s where the film’s greatest attribute comes to play.
Ostensibly a small scale look at this self-taught photographer with the hopes of being the Big Apple’s Cartier-Bresson, the film introduces us to Weber, and his rise from the driver of a beat up taxi cab to a gallery staple. Aesthetically, the film isn’t much to talk about. A relatively standard talking heads documentary, the film splices these interview segments with beautiful photographs taken by Weber, all with a rather breathless pace and editing style. Clocking in at just a tick or two above 80 minutes, the film’s pace is rather solid, never allowing a dull moment here, instead keeping us either entranced by the man’s story or glued to our screen thanks to the uncannily beautiful pieces of art he produced.
Weber is himself a rather intriguing man. Not only does his life have within it great tales and ebbs and flows, but he has a magnetic personality that despite looking like a guy you’d catch double listing beers at a baseball game instead of sipping wine at a new gallery opening in the highest end parts of this country’s art Mecca, he seems bewilderingly at ease behind the camera. There is an assurance to his photography that despite the luck that does go with this type of photography, makes each photo feel like the most passionately composed and expertly crafted pieces of photography.
But again, as mentioned above, neither our lead nor the craft behind this film is where this picture works its greatest. Instead, it is in the interview sequences. Instead of simply feeling at ease being a brief and cursory look at this artist, the film has much higher aspirations. Taking into account a handful of critical viewpoints of this man’s artwork, the film itself becomes a rather superb meditation on not only the current state of modern art, but more importantly the rise of the street photographer as a major voice in the art world. Be it his most adamant fans or those men and women who see his work as nothing but obvious and entirely uninteresting, the film is not afraid to both turn this man into a patron saint of NYC artwork, and also proof that maybe we have hit the apex of human creative output.
Overall, while the film itself doesn’t get, aesthetically, off the ground really, the film is a bewitching meditation on the current state of modern art, and everything that comes with it. With a charming lead at its center, and a lack of fear with regards to the type of portrait it paints of him, More Than The Rainbow is a fantastic documentary looking at one of today’s most talked about street photographers.