Tim's Vermeer (Sony Pictures Classics)

Penn & Teller are illusionists who mix a bit of humor amidst all that delicious intrigue and misdirection. There are brief touches of levity in the documentary Tim’s Vermeer, but when you’re dealing with a Texas engineer/inventor who’s bent on replicating a painting from Johannes Vermeer, time is of the essence.

Since the pair are longtime friends of Tim Jenison, they had an all access pass to the entrepreneur’s painstaking yet creatively fulfilling journey in creating his own version of Vermeer’s “The Piano Lesson.” Jenison’s efforts include using what he believed were similar lenses Vermeer employed to create the photo realistic effect of much of his paintings as well as building a studio which attempted to mimic the Dutch painter’s own working conditions.

Although it took Jenison over four years to finish his project, (director Teller shot 2400 hours of footage), he’s pretty humble of his own accomplishments. “I was plagiarizing Vermeer,” said Jenison. “I can’t take credit for anything in that painting. I was just doing an experiment to see if this equipment would work. There is a painting that came out of that, but that’s Vermeer’s creation.”

To hear how Tim Jenison talk about the genesis behind his Vermeer project, click on the media bar below (he also elaborates on how he built his studio):

Tim’s Vermeer, which features Penn Jillette as one of the doc’s producers, opens in New York and Los Angeles on Friday, January 31.

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posted by Greg Srisavasdi