TRACES THE TURBULENT LIFE OF THE WELL KNOWN ARTIST JACKSONPOLLOCK. ALTHOUGH HIS WIFE, LEE KRASNER, IS DEDICATED TOCARVING POLLOCK'S NAME INTO ART HISTORY. POLLOCK FINDS HIMSELFIN A DOWNWARD SPIRAL THAT THREATENS TO DESTROY... more » NOT ONLY HIS MARRIAGE AND PROMISING CAREER BUT PERHAPS EVEN HIS LIFE.« less
Michael J. Mazza | Pittsburgh, PA USA | 05/05/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"American painter Jackson Pollock (1912-56) was a revolutionary figure in 20th century art. The film "Pollock" tells the story of his successes, setbacks, and inner torment. Directed by Ed Harris, who also plays the title role, this is very effective portrait of the man and the artist.Excellent performances are also turned in by the supporting cast. Marcia Gay Harden is amazing as Lee Krasner, Pollock's wife and fellow painter; Harden is intelligent, sexy, passionate, and driven in this difficult role. Another standout performance comes from Amy Madigan, as art patron Peggy Guggenheim; Madigan creates an intriguingly creepy portrait of a powerful woman.But this is Harris' film, and he is triumphant in the title role. His Pollock is the quintessential "tortured artist." But Harris rises above this cultural stereotype to create a complex, unsettling portrait of Pollock. Particularly magical are the scenes where Harris/Pollock is painting; these scenes are superbly complemented by Jeff Beal's musical score. And Harris is truly frightening when Pollock's inner rage finally spills out.Ultimately, I see Ed Harris' "Pollock" as an important meditation on the role of a visionary artist in a society that is obsessed with consumption and profit. If you are interested in modern art or in good filmmaking, check out "Pollock.""
The man who painted energy
Alejandra Vernon | Long Beach, California | 07/19/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Based on "Jackson Pollock: An American Saga" by Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith, this film is a portrait of a destructive, self indulgent man who though brilliant, was nonetheless a double-distilled jerk. Was it self-interest that motivated the ambitious Lee Krasner to stay with him ? Perhaps the need to nurture, and be a part of a talent greater than hers ? Who can tell what drives such complex relationships, and had she not been at his side, it is doubtful that he would have achieved his current place in art history; perhaps it was a fated, infernal partnership, all for art's sake.Ed Harris as director and actor brought this story to life with believability and his chemistry with Marcia Gay Harden is superb; he received Oscar nomination for Best Actor, and she won for Best Supporting Actress, and both deservedly so. There is a fight scene towards the end of the film that is so real it sounds as if it is actually happening. I find myself lowering the volume, so my neighbors don't call the police.
Also excellent is Sada Thompson as Pollock's mother, and Amy Madigan (Mrs. Ed Harris in real life) as Peggy Guggenheim.The cinematography, set, and costume design all capture the look of mid 20th century America, and the soundtrack by Jeff Beal is lovely; I particularly like the sprightly theme that seems sometimes to connect one scene to another.
I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the depiction of the creative process, like when he discovered his drip technique, and also loved the representation of the 1950 exhibit at the Betty Parsons Gallery, with the final camera shot zooming into the paint itself.
Though he struggled long and hard for fame, once it was his, he said "I feel like a clam without a shell". Lee survived him by by 28 years, and hopefully, found some peace and joy in life, along with the wonderful work she was to do once on her own.
This is not something to view on a date night, or for fun, but it is a fascinating film, especially for someone in the arts."
Transcends the Cliches of the Biopic
fellinigreenaway | USA | 06/08/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Ed Harris deserved the Best Actor trophy for Pollock over the heavily hyped Russell Crowe, who should have won last year for The Insider. And I even thought there might be a chance he'd win when the sublime Marcia Gay Harden beat the equally deserving (but younger, with a brighter future) Kate Hudson. This film, based on the life and death of Jackson Pollock, is an acting paradise. Harris and Harden are both given ample scenery to chew, and Harris ups the ante by giving us a performance that not only shows the desperation and suffering in Pollock's life, but the peace he felt when he painted. And those painting scenes are so full of energy that it's easy to believe that Jackson Pollock is up there on the screen, painting yet another masterpiece.If you're a fan of Pollock himself, there will be much for you to enjoy here, and even if you're not, you'll have the chance to see two of the best performances of the year."
Stunning Work By Harris
Reviewer | 04/16/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The romantic notion of suffering for one's art has been cinematically rendered in countless films, depicting the lives of real life artists ranging from Van Gogh to Camille Claudel to Beethoven to Jim Morrison to Rimbaud; but rarely has a film penetrated as deeply as "Pollock," directed by and starring Ed Harris as the abstract painter Jackson Pollock. The story begins in 1941 and chronicles Pollock's life until the early `50s. It's a vivid, and at times grim portrait of a true artist struggling for recognition, as well as with the inner demons that plague his soul and are reflected in his art and the way he lives his life. It is said that the artist "sees" the world differently than the average person, which may be true; and it is that unique "vision" that sets the artist apart. And Pollock was no exception to the rule. As romantic as it may sound, the reality of suffering for one's art is just that: Suffering. For realizing that vision and bringing it to fruition is more often than not an arduous and tortuous path to tread. Coalescing the fragments of that vision and transferring that information into reality can be a painful process, and one of the strengths of this film is that it so succinctly conveys that sense of desperation and frustration that are seemingly an intrinsic part of "creating." There's a scene in which Pollock, after having been commissioned to do a mural, sits on the floor of his studio with his back against the wall staring for days on end at the blank canvas stretched across the room, waiting for that spark of inspiration, that sudden moment when what he must do will crystallize in his mind's eye. It's a powerful, intense scene that allows you to share that creative process with the artist and experience the emotional turmoil of it, as well as the exhilaration of the moment when it all suddenly becomes clear, when the vision is realized. It's a stunning moment; Pollock's face fills the screen and you actually see it in his eyes, the exact moment of discovery. And it's absolute magic. As Pollock, Ed Harris gives arguably the best performance of his career; he perfectly captures every emotional level of this complex individual, from the manic highs and lows (exacerbated by alcohol consumption) to the neutral moments in between. He totally immerses himself in the character, and what surfaces is a thorough and memorable picture of a tortured genius and flawed human being. It's an astounding piece of work, for which he most certainly should have taken home the Oscar for Best Actor. Marcia Gay Harden received the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Lee Krasner, the woman who loved Pollock and devoted herself (even at the expense of her own career as an artist) to the man and his art. It's a terrific performance, through which Harden brings Lee to life, physically and emotionally. Her amount of screen time seemingly should have qualified her for a Best Actress nomination, but regardless, her work here is unquestionably deserving of the Oscar. The supporting cast includes Amy Madigan (Peggy Guggenheim), Jennifer Connelly (Ruth), Jeffrey Tambor (Clement), Bud Cort (Howard), John Heard (Tony), Sada Thompson (Stella Pollock) and Val Kilmer (Willem de Kooning). Harris' triumph with "Pollock" does not begin and end with his extraordinary performance, however; though his acting is so exceptional it would be easy to overlook the brilliant job of directing he did with this film. And it is brilliant. The way this film is presented is the work of not only a seasoned professional, but of a professional artist with a unique vision of his own. One of the best films of the year (2000), hopefully it will in the future receive the acclaim of which it is so richly deserving. Hopefully, as well, Harris will direct again; for it is talent like his, and films like this one, that expand the Cinematic Universe as we know it."
"In the era of teenyboper movie stars who probably can't drive cars or order alcohol yet, it is nice to see a movie driven by the performances of two increadible actors. Both Ed Harris and Marcia Gay Harden have taken the time to perfect their artform and are far from the smiling faces visibly reading notecards off camera that we have all become so used to seeing. In fact, watching this film is a visual feast because it suggests (even if it doesn't always hit the mark itself) what a movie is capable of becoming if competent actors are employed.The story of Jackson Pollock is not a particularly satisfying one. With most artists, there is a violent debate over which handful out of the masses of talented people are going to be recognized as the ones who really shaped the creative directions of their time. This debate is especially interesting when it comes to Jackson Pollock, whose drip style of painting has many people convinced he was a no-talent ... who simply coasted by on what amounted to a "The emperor has no clothes" type of trick. For whatever reason, I personally have always enjoyed Pollock's paintings, so this side of Pollock's story is not particularly compelling for me. However, it does represent a direction the movie could have taken but chose not to. It is clear that Harris chose not to construct a metaphorical representation of the man that tried to articulate and explain his importance as an artist, but instead elected to present Pollock as he actually was. That is, in an unflattering light. In a sense, this choice is a testament not only to Pollock's reputation as an artist, but the strength of his personality, for at the end of the movie it is clear that the filmakers believe we will see him as a brilliant man despite the fact that they bombarded us with two hours of almost exclusively the lowest moments of his life.In a way, the brutally honest handling of Pollock does allow the audience to get deep inside his head. The chaos of his personal life is sort of reflected in his bizarre and abstract works, though this is not a connection the movie strains to make. In fact, the movie never strains at all, which is what is so appealing about it, it is almost entirely non-manipulative. Or if it does manipulate, it does so in the direction opposite from that which would most benifit the picture. The decision was to present Pollock the man not Pollock the artist, and the motivation seems to be that you get one with the other. Not enough can be said about Harris' performance. He is so totally immersed in the role that even his energetic painting scenes seem totally authentic. Imagine an actor pretending to be Jimi Hendrix playing the guitar and you'll recognize the difficulty. There are some icons that are so indellibly planted in our consciousness that any falseness in their representation is immediately apparent. The real revelation is Marcia Gay Harden, both for her performance and the complexity of the character she plays. Again, there is a strong authenticity to her role as the woman who basicly took care of everything in Pollock's life so that he could concentrate, some might say selfishly, entirely on his work. One might ask if freeing up the man so that he can be in such frequent undistracted contact with his inner demons was actually benifical to him, or humanity in general.All in all, there are some times when this film is rather slow and begins to lose the attention of its viewers. Anybody who has any background in art should not miss it however as it does provide a wonderful opportunity to familiarize the events of Pollock's life and make your own decision about their worthiness."