Friday, February 08, 2013

Pollock 2000

This is a regular laugh fest, a bouncy raucous jumping up and down fun night at the movies. Only joking, but seriously folks as far as artist biopics  goes, this one is pretty good. Directed and starring Ed Harris as Jack the dripper, the film is very well done and captures the period very nicely considering that the budget must have been small. There are no sweeping panoramas and grand New York City streets in the 1940’s with lots of vintage cars to be seen and most of the film takes places in small apartments and later in the modest farm house where Jackson and Lee Krasner moved to get away from the hub and bub of New York City. Harris based the movie on the 1990 controversial bio “Jackson Pollock: An American Saga,'' by Steven Naifeh and Gregory White, but he leaves out the most heated part of the book in which the authors write that Pollock had homosexual tendencies which he acted on.  Jeepers Creepers, did the shit hit the New York art world fan when this little nugget about Jack hit the bookstores. And of course family and some friends shook their heads and pointed fingers stating untrue untrue. “I was really shocked,'' said Frank Pollock, Jackson's only surviving brother. ''It's preposterous. There were no homosexual tendencies in Jack or any of his brothers.'' Oh come on Frank how would you know one way or another, were you watching what Jackson did on all those drunken nights away from Lee and what exactly does a homosexual tendency look like? Is it pink and fuzzy? Is it a neon sign hanging around someone’s neck?  And this from Jeffrey Potter who also wrote a book on Pollock ''The allegation that he was gay is a big joke to everyone who knew Jackson,'' ''He was asexual, I'll give you that. All of his sexual drive went into his work.'' Better asexual then gay,  better a bullying alcoholic misogynist, psychopath than gay.  Anyway so the gay stuff is out, O U T out but the breakdowns, the perceived womanizing and the drunken falling down bouts with depression are in, as are the little hints of an unhealthy dependence and need for approval from his quietly overbearing mother played by the great Sada Thompson who with hardly any lines of dialogue does more with a look to show disapproval and disgust than I’ve seen in a long time. Also in the good cast is Marcia Gay Harden as Lee Krasner, and here I have to fault the film for this beautiful actress as good as she is (and she won an Oscar for her performance) is way too attractive to play the homely Lee. And homely she was, sorry but that’s the truth of the matter, and hopefully Lee will forgive me for saying this and not want to take back the two Pollock Krasner grants that their foundation gave me. So there is a lot of fiction in the movie, but this is not unusual for biopics, and we tend to take our biopics with big grains of salt at least I do.  Also good in a small role is Amy Madigan (Mrs. Ed Harris) as Peggy Guggenheim with her dark frizzy hair and impatient attitude. “I’m Peggy Guggenheim and Peggy Guggenheim does not climb 5 flights of stairs” she says huffing and puffing after climbing all those stairs only to find Jackson not at home when she comes to look at his work. A wonderful  moment. The cast also includes the very beautiful Jennifer Connolly as Ruth Kligman who was very good-looking in real life (I can attest to that) and who was the only one to survive the car crash that took the life of Pollock and Ruth’s friend who was a the wrong place at the wrong time. The film is nicely shot and colored and the recreation of his paintings are quite remarkable. There is also lots of bit parts with actors and actress playing many of the important personages of the period. Oh look there’s Val Kilmer as Willem DeKooning.


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