Tim's Vermeer 

Now playing at The Flicks

It was almost as if we were doing something shady.

"Hey, you want an inside tip?" asked a fellow critic at last September's Toronto International Film Festival. "Seriously, this is good stuff."

The tipster then said something we didn't really comprehend at first.

"It's called Tim's Vermeer."

What?

"I know it doesn't sound sexy or anything, but it's about the Dutch artist [Johannes] Vermeer and how his paintings were so amazingly life-like, even though it was 150 years before the invention of photography."

The tipster now had our attention.

"And get a load of this," he continued. "The movie is narrated by Penn and directed by Teller."

Wait a minute... what?

"You know, Penn and Teller, the Las Vegas magicians. I promise you, it's amazing."

Within the hour, I was sitting in a jewel box of a Toronto movie theater watching Tim's Vermeer. Tim is Texan inventor Tim Jenison. He's a technical wizard credited with developing the technology used in video software for desktop computers. He's a friend of magician Penn Jillette, and Jenison is also obsessed with a wacky theory of how Vermeer's paintings were so picture-perfect. It's the unlikeliest of subjects, but the 80-minute film zips by like a sleight-of-hand trick.

Last year was exceptional for documentaries, and it's a shame that Tim's Vermeer wasn't short-listed for an Oscar. But this unexpected dazzler does open at The Flicks Friday, March 21.

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