Distance: 3 miles and teach yoga class
Since at least the early 1800's it has been speculated that Jan Vermeer used some sort of optic technology in creating his superb, glowing paintings - one after the other masterpieces of intimate realism - beloved around the world. Now there is a very wealthy techie in Texas, Tim Jenison, who devoted six years of his life to duplicating Vermeer's method and demonstrating that, using it, a completely novice painter such as himself can paint a perfect Vermeer. Which is exactly what he does when he constructs an exact duplicate of Vermeer's studio then proceeds to use brushes, oils and a (convex) mirror to paint Vermeer's The Music Lesson. Jenison is a longtime friend of Penn Jillette who is the narrator/producer of the documentary Tim's Vermeer and directed by Penn's silent partner Teller.
An entertaining (for a while) well done but not perfect (or entirely accurate on certain art points) documentary, Tim's Vermeer is intelligent fare that causes the viewer to think anew about such large unsolvable but tantalizing quandaries as the criteria for genius, the role of technology (or even assistance) in the art process, the nature of obsession (and certainly Jenison - if not Vermeer - is obsessive) and other art-related questions. Surely it will be on the short list of best documentaries during this award season.