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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars [3.5]--Why don't you tell me your secret?,
I enjoyed this film for what it is but others won't feel the same. The movie Fur pays essentially no attention to Arbus's career as a photographer. In fact, if you do not already know about her work and its themes, you will leave be upset like a few reviewers in here, other than to realize that she was interested in freaks. The film never really shows the part of her life...
Published on 28 Aug 2007 by Jenny J.J.I.

versus
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Poor, or is it me?
I know it is meant to be a tribute/fantasy, but with Kidman, Downey, etc in it I did expect a film worth watching. It is weird, strange, and decidedly offbeat. If you are expecting a film remotely about the real life of Arbus forget it, if you like fantasy, and Kidman in 50's style clothes and hair then it might be worth watching because she has to be one of the most...
Published on 30 May 2011 by F. McLean-Brown


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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars [3.5]--Why don't you tell me your secret?,, 28 Aug 2007
By 
This review is from: Fur - An Imaginary Portrait Of Diane Arbus [DVD] (DVD)
I enjoyed this film for what it is but others won't feel the same. The movie Fur pays essentially no attention to Arbus's career as a photographer. In fact, if you do not already know about her work and its themes, you will leave be upset like a few reviewers in here, other than to realize that she was interested in freaks. The film never really shows the part of her life when her career had blossomed, nor does it not explain how she developed her technical or artistic skills. (It wasn't from her experience in fashion photography with her husband. When she decided what she wanted to do, she studied the art of photography under a master.) What the film does do is to ask a theoretical question, "What set of circumstances could have transformed a Good Housekeeping housewife of 1957 into a kinky fetishist in 1967?" It imagines those circumstances as follows: Arbus meets Lionel, a sideshow freak with a condition that makes him appear to be Michael Landon in that Teenage Werewolf movie. (This is a completely fictional character.) She is immediately fascinated by him, and then attracted to him. Through her Beauty and the Beast affair with the human werewolf, she meets the people who used to be his colleagues on the sideshow circuit, and is transformed by her fascination with their world, and is astounded to find out how essentially normal and mundane it is beneath the sensational exterior. She begins to ponder the nature of normality itself.

"Fur" was directed by Steven Shainberg, who also directed the kinky Secretary. He seems to have a bit of the Arbus spirit in his own soul. Shainberg does an excellent job at capturing the tension inherent in Arbus's point of view, as she takes her first tentative steps from the mainstream into an under culture which both excites and terrifies her.The presence of Nicole Kidman and Robert Downey provides some real heft to this project, but the film still ultimately fails - for two reasons: First, Downey's wolf man make-up is a bit awkward when it should convey dark mystery and an ominous sense that the forbidden and outré are nearer than they seem. The film works perfectly when Downey is covered by grotesque masks, but falls apart when the teenage werewolf faces the camera squarely and makes you wonder. Second, the film drags on and on as we wait for Diane's transformation and then fails to show us the results after the great awakening finally arrives. It feels as if the Ben Hogan story ended with the car accident and a question about whether he could ever come back. In fact, the film never shows any examples of the art which Diane would develop after her cultural epiphany. "Fur" is Diane Arbus without the photographs, just as the recent Paltrow movie was Sylvia Plath without the poems.

It might be a better movie if it had committed to being 100% fictional or 100% biographical. With a better make-up job on the Beast, the movie could stand by itself with no reference at all to Diane Arbus as the Beauty, since it treats the biographical details as mere background elements in the dream-tale of how the Arbus metamorphosis might theoretically have happened. As it stands, Fur is an earnest and slick art film with only cult appeal. Most people are reluctant to watch a pretentious real biography of a tortured artist, let alone a make-believe version of same.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Gentle Love Story, 23 July 2008
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This review is from: Fur - An Imaginary Portrait Of Diane Arbus [DVD] (DVD)
If one forgets that the lead is meant to be a real person and approach this film for what it is, essentially a love story, then one won't be disappointed. I didn't know who Diane Arbus was before seeing the film and it made not a jot of difference. The storyline is not totally unrealistic - a bored housewife stumbling across a new and different world through the medium of a new neighbour and the effects it has on her family. The performances are strong, particularly Robert Downey Jr, who even covered in hair, remains as charismatic as ever.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fur - An imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus, 20 May 2009
By 
L. Wilson (Cheshire, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Fur - An Imaginary Portrait Of Diane Arbus [DVD] (DVD)
This film is a must see! If not as a fan of Diane Arbus herself, for the dark and sometimes quite shocking story it portrays.

Robert Downey Jnr manages to still somehow, with that very sexy voice, keep the viewer charmed and drawn in even in the costume of all costumes, making it actually understandable how Nicole Kidmans character gets fasinated and quite obsessed with the 'freak' who moved in upstairs.

It is a nice idea of how Diane Arbus first starts to photograph the more 'un-usual' looking people, which made her so famous, but it is no way a story of her life & death, rather a 'snippet' of her life, or should I say, how her life could have been according to the writers.

This film is a hidden gem in both Robert Downey Jnr & Nicole Kidmans filmographies which did not get the fame and recognition I beleive it should have.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Every picture tells a story., 20 Feb 2008
This review is from: Fur - An Imaginary Portrait Of Diane Arbus [DVD] (DVD)
Any instance in which a filmmaker attempts to blend ideas of fact with fiction - especially when that particular fact is fairly well known and tied to an iconic historical figure - they're going to have problems in maintaining a connection with certain factions of their audience. Just look at some previous examples of this same stylistic device in other films; such as Dreamchild (1985) for instance, in which an elderly Alice Liddell reflects on her time spent with Lewis Carroll and his obsessive compulsion to nail her character to the very pages of his most celebrated work. Even more polarising was David Cronenberg's adaptation of the cult novel Naked Lunch (1991), in which elements of the author's life and works were blended together to create a torturous, darkly-comic and highly homo-erotic trek through the damaged psychological territory of a Burroughs-like bug exterminator. A similar approach was also used by director Steven Sodebergh and screenwriter Lem Dobbs with their coolly expressionistic merging of the fantastical and horrific writings of Franz Kafka (1991), with the more mundane, everyday-like tedium of his real life and work.

Fur (2006), which makes its intentions clear with the subtitle "an imaginary portrait of Diane Arbus", takes on a similar approach to the films aforementioned; blending elements of personal fact and actual biographical detail with a story that is pure, fairy tale fabrication. Having watched the film just a few days ago, I browsed the Internet for previous reviews to get a sense of how other audiences had approached it. In doing so, I was quite shocked and surprised to see just how violently some viewers had reacted to the film; citing everything from the liberal approach of the film's script, the central performance from Nicole Kidman, and the fundamental message that seems implied by the film's very tender sense of emotional drama as reasons why this film was worthless or simply not good. This surprised me for two reasons, firstly; that these intelligent and well-versed viewers were unable to separate the elements of fact surrounding the real life Diane Arbus and her extraordinary body of work from the quite clearly fabricated depiction of grotesque beauty that the filmmakers create through the imagined relationship between our caricature of Diane and a character named Lionel; a mysterious former carnival performer. Secondly, it surprised me that these viewers felt that Arbus's life would be better served by a routine, by the books Hollywood biopic in which all the facts and back stories are simplified, and we end up with a very simple film about the triumph of the little guy against all odds.

Do people really want bland, cookie-cutter, connect the dots cinema; a struggle over adversary and all the usual nonsense that comes with those A-Z, biographical features, such as Walk the Line (2005) and Ray (2004)? Sadly, it would appear so. What happened to audiences craving imaginative, free-thinking cinema? Something that attempts to deconstruct a greater truth in an intelligent, imaginative and emotionally captivating way that is genuinely suited to the visual, metaphorical capabilities that cinema presents. For me, everything you would need to know about Arbus is here and everything you would need to know about her art is divulged in a number of interesting, highly imaginative visual quirks. You just have to scratch beneath the surface. Read between the lines and you'll see with this film the very psychological impulse and motivation to create something beautiful from the seemingly mundane; to capture that all too fleeting moment and preserve it on film forever. Fur, for me, took us inside the psychological world of Arbus, with none of the black and white moralising or textbook type tedium that often plagues this particular genre; but instead, showing us some of the potential ideas and imagined situations that came to instil her work with such a grotesque sense of beauty.

It has a long been said; "every picture tells a story". That's what this film is about. Anyone can read a book about the real life Arbus; but how on earth is that enriching the cinematic medium? I personally don't look to cinema to find something that is readily available to me at my local library. This film takes us inside Arbus' world and gives us a beautifully told and imaginative back-story that blends elements of real-life fact with references to gothic literature, fairy stories, history and the subjective power of the art itself. The creative spirit of this film is exactly in tune with Arbus's creative vision. To give us something like the Rocky (1976) of photographer-themed biographical pictures would, to my mind at least, have been a much greater insult to the unique and continually captivating universe that this particular artist created through her work. You may disagree with the approach, or fail to see the appeal of the story, but for me, Fur is the kind of film that I feel I could go back to again and still find a number of things worth raving about; including ideas and themes that I may have missed before.

Like one of Arbus's iconic pictures, Fur presents us with something seemingly drab, seemingly bizarre, and allows us to take the time to see the inherent beauty behind it. Like the work of Diane Arbus itself, you can choose to see it as something unfeeling or exploitative, or alternatively, you can see it as a gateway into understanding the enormous amount of empathy that Arbus had for her bizarre and often extraordinary subjects. The direction manages to create a mood and an ambience that is halfway between the aforementioned William S. Burroughs and the antiseptic 50's Americana of The Bell Jar, with the otherworldly danger and mystique of a film like Pan's Labyrinth (2006). Alongside these stylistic elements we also have continual references to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and the notion of Beauty and the Beast, and all tied together by the fine performances from Kidman as the shackled, stifled Arbus and Robert Downey Jr. as the mysterious and sympathetic Lionel. Truly, an intelligent, imaginative and captivating piece of work.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic, 2 Nov 2012
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This review is from: Fur - An Imaginary Portrait Of Diane Arbus [DVD] (DVD)
THis is now one of my favourite films. Some mind find it a little strange but I absolutely love it.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Poor, or is it me?, 30 May 2011
By 
F. McLean-Brown "Fred Bear" (Essex, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Fur - An Imaginary Portrait Of Diane Arbus [DVD] (DVD)
I know it is meant to be a tribute/fantasy, but with Kidman, Downey, etc in it I did expect a film worth watching. It is weird, strange, and decidedly offbeat. If you are expecting a film remotely about the real life of Arbus forget it, if you like fantasy, and Kidman in 50's style clothes and hair then it might be worth watching because she has to be one of the most beautiful/sexy actresses there is.

I know some people will like it being strange and i have to admit it is well acted by all concerned, very well filmed, just mot my kind of story line, but it may be yours.

Because it is well acted and well filmed I have given it 3/5, perhaps it is my fault for not being capable of appreciating the story line and ideas behind it.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Confused, but intriguing piece of cinema, 3 Dec 2007
This review is from: Fur - An Imaginary Portrait Of Diane Arbus [DVD] (DVD)
Fur isn't a very satisfying movie. It's very surreal, and nicely shot, but seemed to get lost in its own intentions. In other words, I'm not sure it knew what type of film it wanted to be. One thing that annoyed me was the over usage of the circular symbolism in the shots - once you spot it, it's pretty irritating.

It's experimental but isn't overly pretentious, and all of the performances are quite daring and strong without resorting to the usual 'Oscar hungry' cliches. The end sequence is rather moving, and Downey Jr puts in a charismatic show.

It's enjoyable, if it's watched more as a character study than a film. Worthy of your time, but ultimately falls short of being a great movie.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Captivating, 4 May 2013
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This review is from: Fur - An Imaginary Portrait Of Diane Arbus [DVD] (DVD)
Fur - An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus is a fantastic film that gives exactly what the title claims.
It is imaginary, with powerful metaphors and outstanding performances.
A highly artistic film, it may not be for everyone, but I would definitely recommend it.

I came across this film after watching a number of Robert Downey Jr. films.
He once again proves why he is named the best actor of his generation.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Arbus Imagined, 18 Dec 2010
This review is from: Fur - An Imaginary Portrait Of Diane Arbus [DVD] (DVD)
entertaining if factually inaccurate
some key aspects of Arbus's life are true to life and others freely created to offer an explanation of her facination with darker hidden lives
not a bio but certainly interesting
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5.0 out of 5 stars Complete change of scene, 4 Jun 2010
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delaunay - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Fur - An Imaginary Portrait Of Diane Arbus [DVD] (DVD)
If you don't mind going off the beaten track, you then sure should watch this movie. The two actors -Nicole Kidman & Robert Downey Jr- are magnificient and clearly committed. The scenary too is astounding. This is the story of a woman whose eyes can see beyong what is visible. I do not think she has a tendency to like freaks, I think she's really open-minded and simply deals with the humanity in people. On top of that, she just cannot know her place, and is in search of something else. I have not been so enthusiastic about a movie since 'V for Vendetta', which by the way reminds me of this movie. Director Steven Shainberg had already surprised me and moved me with the movie 'Secretary'. Now he has managed to do this twice! Seems he really likes to portray individuals much people would call 'insane', and yet... ;O)
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Fur - An Imaginary Portrait Of Diane Arbus [DVD]
Fur - An Imaginary Portrait Of Diane Arbus [DVD] by Steven Shainberg (DVD - 2007)
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