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Review: Polaroid documentary ‘Instant Dreams’ supplies little gratification

Review: Polaroid documentary ‘Instant Dreams’ supplies little gratification
Stefanie Schneider in the documentary "Instant Dreams." (Synergetic Distribution)

For a documentary examining the enduring affection for the late Polaroid camera (the bankrupt company ceased manufacturing its iconic, self-developing film in 2008) Willem Baptist’s “Instant Dreams” proves to be an awfully drawn-out process.

At its peak, the brainchild of Edwin Land generated more than a billion photos a year before that brand of old school instant gratification was effectively rendered obsolete in the digital age.

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But, like the vinyl LP before it, it was rescued from oblivion by passionate consumers and Impossible Project, a Dutch company since renamed Polaroid Originals, which set about devising a film stock that would be comparable to Dr. Land’s secret formula.

As long as he maintains his focus on the notoriously private Land and the painstaking efforts of Impossible Project’s chief technology officer and Polaroid vet Stephen Herchen to recapture lightning in an SX-70, Baptist delivers something reasonably compelling.

Unfortunately the bulk of the overly artsy production is preoccupied with the exploits of others, including Polaroid-obsessed New York Magazine editor Christopher Bonanos, who penned a book on the subject; and German artist Stefanie Schneider, who used her dwindling expired film stock for a photo shoot in the middle of the California desert.

After 90 minutes of watching his subjects doing mundane things like driving around in cars and posing for faux photos, the pretentious film will leave you wanting to shake it like a Polaroid picture.

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‘Instant Dreams’

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 31 minutes

Playing: Starts April 26, Laemmle Glendale

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