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Movie Reviews

Pollock  

Pollock is a new film starring and directed by Ed Harris. It is an honest and sometimes brutal look at the life of one of America's greatest modern art masters. Unlike a lot of film bio's Pollock doesn't get weighed down in trying to over analyze the artistic process or analyze his self-destructive behavior. It is a look at the man himself. At his life and how it was affected with his successes and his failures in the art world.

The film looks at the period of his life from his early days as a struggling artist to his meteoric rise and fall in the art community. The opening scene of the film, we see a young woman push through a crowd at a Jackson Pollock art exhibit to get him to sign a copy of Life magazine he is featured in. As Pollock signs it he looks around the galley with a look bordering on indifference and disgust. He is right where every artist wants to be and he can't stand it. The film jumps back 10 years in time and we see a drunken Pollock staggering up the stairs to his Greenwich Village apartment. As his brother helps him up the stairs Pollock begins to attack several more popular and successful artists. (I always thought that I would get through life without hearing anyone scream FUCK PICASSO!! Oh well.) The film follows his life from there. He meets Lee Krasner who he would eventually marry. She is a fellow artist and one of the driving forces into getting Pollack the exposure and the stability that he needed to get noticed.

The thing that works most about this film is the performances. Ed Harris gives a raw inspired performance as Pollock. He shows us the worst of his qualities when he is drunk in the gutter. He pulls no punches showing us his petty jealousies when he is struggling, his fear of how he is perceived when he is famous and his further decent into alcohol when his talents have peaked. Counterbalancing Harris portrayal is Marcia Gay Harden's portrayal of Lee Krasner. She is fantastic as Pollock's wife. She is the more grounded of the two and it is her persistence and sacrifice that paved the way for his success. She is at her most powerful when she is challenging him about his desire to have children or his decision to drink after a long period of sobriety. The scenes between the two actors are the most powerful of the film. It's easy to see why they were nominated.

Pollock is the first film directed by Ed Harris and it is an admirable one. He had a difficult task trying to capture the life of a very introverted artist. While it would have been nice to see more of Pollock's thoughts or personality there wasn't a lot to work with due to the fact that Pollock was not a very open man. A lot of directors would have relied on speculation to capture or dissect the person that they are filming. Smartly, Harris does not.. He shows you the ups, downs, splatters and spills of the character with out bastardizing him or glorifying him. Like his artwork you are given a look at the man and you are allowed to make your own conclusions.

Despite some slow areas I found the film engrossing and worth seeing. On a one to ten scale, it gets an eight.

Paul Ferris

Wheel Deal Review

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