[MOVIE REVIEW]In Drips and Drabs, a Genius

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[MOVIE REVIEW]In Drips and Drabs, a Genius

"There's painting and there's the painting in you. You need. You need. You need," Lee Krasner tells her husband Jackson Pollock in a scene from "Pollock." It is the struggle that Pollock faced all though his tortured, alcohol-shortened life. And it's the struggle that Ed Harris brilliantly portrays in the lean and lush biography of one of the 20th century's greatest artists.

Pollock roared through the New York art scene in the 1940s and '50s with his drip paintings, before dying in a car accident. Harris shows us Pollock as a surly drunk, a macho, tortured soul, a man who pushed away those who loved him and an artist jealous of more sucessful artists.

"Pollock" is not a detailed portrait, but a sketch from one time period. The focus is not on Pollock, from birth to death, but it is of Pollock struggling to make ends meet, searching for his style, loving two women.

No actor is better suited to portray Pollock than Harris, not only because of his physical similarity to the painter, but because of his brooding, physical presence. Harris spent 10 years preparing for this role; he wrote the screenplay and directed the film. Harris won an Oscar nomination for best actor, and Marcia Gay Harden, as Pollock's wife Krasner, won for best actress.

Before Pollock made it big, Krasner was one of the few who saw the genius in his painting. She put her own painting career on hold to be his champion and, eventually, his wife.

One day, Pollock drips some white paint on a dark wood floor, and in an instant recognizes the artistic possibilities. Krasner tells him, "You've done it. You've cracked it wide open."

The movie is at its best when we see Harris creating his paintings - his gestures and movements graceful and exciting. Pollock's drip paintings often inspire the comment, "Anyone could do that," but Harris makes it vividly clear here that not just anyone could, that his technique was demanding, physically and mentally.

At the height of his success, while a filmmaker is documenting Pollock's work, his emotional and alcohol demons return. With the cameraman recording his creative process, Pollock begins to doubt his art, his skills, his identity. The movie shows Pollock at the height of his fame, then cuts abruptly ahead, as Pollock, now fat and destroyed by alcohol, is washed up and nearing his end.

by Joe Yong-hee

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