Thursday, September 16, 2004


saw this film about 3 nights ago so it's not totally fresh in my memory. mediocrity is never memorable.

this is an average film. it lacks guts & complexity. where bio-pics such as 'the life & death of peter sellers' have been criticised for being convoluted, for trying too much, for interspersing weird flashbacks/meditations into the linear mix, 'pollock' is formulaic dross. if anything it borrows its formula from underdog-comedies - underdog (read drunk, lonely pollock) inspired by a newcomer (here, lee krasner, over-played by an actress who tries too hard to be lee krasner) to realise his talents, have success (his first solo show, funded by peggy guggenhiem - again over-played to the point where she becomes a kind of historical novelty, not a character) have a down-point (fuelled by alcoholism) have even better success (the horribly executed 'drip' revelation) & another down-point. the only thing that sets this film apart (formula-wise) from 'the mighty ducks' is the fact jackson dies at the end.

it's a tale that's absolutely ripe for the screen (maybe his life has been made into a feature before, i'm not sure). but it's done with such dull hollywood regularity, with such a classically tame appreciation of the art & the way artists come to have their revelations & achieve success that it's almost laughable in parts. which is a pity - i don't mind ed harris (particularly as the mission control guy in 'apollo 13') & we oughta be grateful that he doesn't fill his first film (is it his first film?) with cinematic silliness - i can think of only one over-the-top cinematographic conceit: the krasner/pollock foreplay/sex scene, unnecessarily 'symbolic'. & he plays pollock with some aplomb (not an easy character to play, considering he was such a crudely simple man on the outside) - he does drunk & disturbed pollock pretty well.

but my god, he completely misfires in regards to the art. the scenes in which he paints the brilliant, brilliant 'mural' (for peggy guggenheim's place) are all montage; shots of the thinking, perturbed artist, the artist waiting for inspiration, & finally the artist getting to work (by the way, i can't fault harris's pollock-ian painting line; it's quite convincing). not sure at all that montage does what would've been a intensely dramatic process (for pollock) much justice. & the SCORE! the SCORE! zippy, fast-paced, seinfeld-theme-song-type pap, completely & utterly inappropriate given the scale & sublimity & grandeur of pollock's work. p.s. - pollock painted 'mural' on the floor.

the discovery of the 'drip' is even worse. having kicked the drink, having 'settled down' with krasner out in the country somewhere, having become a productive, workaday artist (symbolised pathetically in montage-shots of krasner & pollock planting seeds in the garden?!) pollock discovers 'the drip' by way of cliched revelation - he drops some white paint on the ground accidentally. oh gawd.

it's a gimmicky film. historical-gimmicky. it features historical cameos - val kilmer as willem de kooning, some other guy as clement greenberg (who by the way gets treated VERY kindly by harris; he's a big beacon of critical sense & solidity), & i've already mentioned krasner & guggenheim. & the way greenberg/guggenheim & others take one look at pollock's paintings & utter words like 'genius' after 5 seconds. like the film as a whole - only a superficial glimpse at a ludicrously complex painter. the finale couldn't come quick enough, it seems - harris wraps things up straight after pollock's car speeds off the road. an abrupt, mildly effective end to an all-too-abrupt movie.


Blogger Cassie said...

Hi Will,

I didn't mind the actress who played Lee Krasner,
she was the most convincing to me. My main problem
with the film was that it made me hate Jackson
Pollock! Because he came across as such an ass in
the film.

Keep up the good blog work.

12:04 PM  
Blogger Cassie said...

P.S. I hated pollock the 'character', not the real life
artist, I mean.


12:07 PM  
Blogger focy said...

cheers for commenting cassie!

yeah, i guess the actress who played krasner was kinda ok. i just thought the accent was a bit overdone, & the way she quoted rimbaud early in the film made me squirm.

3:26 PM  

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