Pollock

"Good"

Pollock Review


Please, please, please, please, please read the book that formed the basis of the movie Pollock. Jackson Pollock: An American Saga won the Pulitzer Prize for a good reason: It's a 934-page masterpiece that gets into the guts of the artist now being celebrated on celluloid by Ed Harris. Published in 1989 and written by Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith, the tome contains everything about Pollock that was left out of Harris' up-and-down movie -- and, unfortunately, that means 99 percent of the demons, doubters, friends, and forces that inspired Pollock to drink, paint, drink, and paint again.

A good example: Pollock was suicidal, maniacal and violent throughout his 44-year life. The first sentence of Naifeh's and Smith's book -- the very first sentence -- is this quote from Pollock: "I'm going to kill myself." Explains a lot, but for some odd reason, Harris only hints at Pollock's suicidal tendencies in his long-anticipated film.

What Harris does best is show us Pollock painting. Over and over, we see Harris dripping paint on large canvases and throwing around the oils like they were enemies that need to be splattered dead. Reds, yellows, blues, and grays come alive in Pollock, letting viewers exhilarate in the glory of creating great abstract art. For people not familiar with Pollock's paintings, Harris' movie will be a revelation. Much of the movie was filmed on Pollock's former Long Island estate, where he did his most celebrated work. Harris, who directed himself, deserves praise for effectively recreating Pollock's last years and for learning to actually paint like Pollock. Harris isn't faking it when he hunches over a blank canvas and splashes paint everywhere.

Harris is also good at capturing some of Pollock's notorious rages. It's chilling when Harris starts yelling at a pushy filmmaker and practically stalks him to the family dinner table, telling him, "I'm not the phony! You're the phony! I'm not the phony! You're the phony!" There is genuine fear in that scene, and it was fear that followed Pollock from his birth in 1912 to his death in 1956.

In the role of Lee Krasner, Pollock's wife, Marcia Gay Harden is perfect. With her thick, New York accent and controlling tendencies, Harden's Krasner helps drive Pollock's artistic career at a crucial period. Unfortunately, there is no context. Krasner wasn't the only one who propped up Pollock. Though patron Peggy Guggenheim, brother Sande Pollock, and art critic Clement Greenberg are portrayed in Pollock, missing are the long line of backers that date back to Pollock's early years. Where are artists Thomas Hart Benton and John Graham, whose influence on Pollock is well-chronicled in Naifeh's and Smith's book? And where are the legions of therapists and doctors who worked with Pollock for so many years -- therapists and doctors who tried getting Pollock to open up about his sexual confusion, his love-hate relationship with his mother and his lifelong abuse of alcohol?

None of that is in the movie, which begins in 1941, when Pollock is 29 and starting to make a name for himself. Pollock ends with a written note about Pollock's and Krasner's life, but -- at the very least -- the film should have started with a written note about Pollock's early years, when his dysfunctional family formed his sense of self. Too bad. Harris had a good chance to flush out the real Jackson Pollock. Instead, we get an interesting glimpse of the man who became "America's first art star."

A final note: Over the years, many people apparently told Harris that he looks like Pollock, and he does. The physical resemblance may be one reason Harris was so devoted to making this film. (It took 10 years to bring Pollock's life to the big screen.) So obsessed was Harris that he put on 30 pounds to accurately portray Pollock's heavyset last year of life. Like Elvis and other artists, Pollock's weight gain was a portent of a greater physical breakdown.

Pollock gets an earful.



Pollock

Facts and Figures

Run time: 122 mins

In Theaters: Friday 18th May 2001

Box Office USA: $7.3M

Distributed by: Sony Pictures Classics

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 81%
Fresh: 87 Rotten: 20

IMDB: 7.0 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Jackson Pollock, as Lee Krasner, as Dan Miller, as Ruth Kligman, as Howard Putzel, as Tony Smith, as Willem DeKooning, David Leary as Charles Pollock, as Sande Pollock, as Helen Frankenthaler

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Trumbo Movie Review

Trumbo Movie Review

An entertaining film about sobering true events, this is the story of notorious screenwriter Dalton...

Goosebumps Movie Review

Goosebumps Movie Review

Mixing the action, comedy and horror from novelist R.L. Stein's books into a family-friendly package,...

Dad's Army Movie Review

Dad's Army Movie Review

The beloved 1970s British sit-com gets the big screen treatment, although there's been very little...

Spotlight Movie Review

Spotlight Movie Review

This film demonstrates that you don't need guns to make an exciting thriller. Based on...

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi Movie Review

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi Movie Review

Not the subtlest director working in Hollywood, Michael Bay brings his surging machismo to this...

Dirty Grandpa Movie Review

Dirty Grandpa Movie Review

There's nothing clever about this deliberately rude and vulgar comedy, but certain audiences will find...

The Big Short Movie Review

The Big Short Movie Review

Smart and snappy, this comedy is one of the scariest films of the year, using...

Advertisement
The 5th Wave Movie Review

The 5th Wave Movie Review

Also based on the first in a trilogy of post-apocalyptic teen novels, this thriller feels...

Ride Along 2 Movie Review

Ride Along 2 Movie Review

Ice Cube and Kevin Hart reteam for a sequel no one really asked for, following...

Room Movie Review

Room Movie Review

One of the most extraordinary films of the year, this drama cleverly weaves in events...

Creed Movie Review

Creed Movie Review

While this film is basically Rocky VII, it's also much more than that, and perhaps...

A Perfect Day Movie Review

A Perfect Day Movie Review

An irreverent comedy in the style of the original M.A.S.H., this wartime romp takes an...

Partisan Movie Review

Partisan Movie Review

With his feature debut, young Australian filmmaker Ariel Kleiman tells a creepy story about a...

The Revenant Movie Review

The Revenant Movie Review

A wrenching saga of survival and revenge, Alejandro G. Inarritu's new epic is just as...

The Hateful Eight Movie Review

The Hateful Eight Movie Review

Quentin Tarantino is a filmmaker who simply can't be ignored, especially when he lobs a...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.