Thursday, February 10, 2005


As a man of diminished urbanity, Your Ned does not frequently get to see first-run films. And frankly that's jake with me. Rare indeed is the movie that immediately earns my trust and affection, and Wonder Woman has learned to simply ignore the grunts and sighs of impatience and irritation that I make when watching movies. Only when I howl like a hyena at some silent point in a crowded theater, moved to laughter by some unintentional cinematic solecism, does she become irritated with me. Unfortunately, that's maybe a bit too often.

IFC ran Ed Harris' Pollock last night. It managed to avoid the usual pitfalls of biopics -- although there was a true groaner of a moment when Pollock discovers action painting as a droozle of thin white paint hits the studio floor: After he's passionately slashed and splashed his first "true" Pollock painting and is standing admiring it, Lee Krasner runs into the room, looks at the mess of drying paint and intones breathlessly something like, "Pollock, you've cracked it! The sky's the limit!" Sorry: Howls of Jingo laughter.

I'm given to understand, by minds far greater than mine, that writing about music is like dancing about architecture. While I would never dispute the wisdom of this reliable old chestnut, I do nevertheless (perhaps naively) point out that without writing about music, we would be left with grunting and gesticulating about music, which doesn't look very impressive in the Sunday color supplement.

And, of course, the same holds true for painting. Jeffrey Tambor, as Clement Greenberg, is given the difficult task of raving career-boostingly about Pollock's art without actually saying anything about Pollock's art beyond "This man is brilliant and should be made rich and famous!" The movie does a wonderful job of allowing Pollock's stunning creations to explain themselves, but we never get a sense of their place in the art world of 1947, of their context. Pollock of all artists aimed his canvases at a primally preverbal place (and Greenberg was himself a highly preverbal thinker), but that doesn't absolve the movie of at least attempting to place a Pollock side-by-side with a de Kooning or a Rothko and doing just a little curating, a little explaining.

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