Image courtesy of Swiss Dots
Very little art receives unilateral recognition as a work of genius because it inevitably requires at least a few people put their predilections aside. I don’t happen to love mafia movies, for example, but I manage to get over this for indisputably great films like The Godfather, Raging Bull, and of course, My Cousin Vinny. Gary Hustwit’s new documentary Helvetica, named after its subject (and opening today at IFC Center), suggests the famous font is in a similar class despite suffering from overexposure in the 1970s, only a few decades after its invention. Not that Helvetica claims to be about proving or disproving the overall value of the font — the film seeks to articulate its character more than anything else — but the success in following a path that addresses the type’s feel, use and functionality comes in the articulation of its elegance of line and form. These aesthetic qualities prove so powerful that the font takes on almost chameleon-like characteristics.
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