Thursday, April 30, 2015

Woman In Gold

We're in one of those odd times again. Large splits between audiences and critics for not obvious reasons. At which point, you just gotta make like Mr. Goodsen and say "What the hell". In this case, we have a movie critics disdained but audiences adored. A 53%/87% split, which is worthy of a Christian-themed film.

This is the (sigh) based-on-a-true-story of Maria Altmann who sued Austria for the return of artwork stolen by the Nazis. Helen Mirren plays Altmann and, well, who can really ever get enough Helen Mirren? Ryan Reynolds is the good-guy lawyer and grandson of Arnold Schoenberg, and he's awfully good. I mean, his character, not his acting. (Not that his acting is bad. But the point is Schoenberg's a Good Guy.)

Altmann approaches Schoenberg to get him to take the case, and (of course) he becomes obsessed with this. And really, why not? It's a rather grievous injustice, and after being stonewalled by the Austrians (duh), Schoenberg discovers their deception. Which, of course, they deny, and cling to the painting which they claim has become part of Austrian consciousness.

She's the "Woman in Gold" by the way because "Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I" kind of gives the game away vis-a-vis the semitic nature of the subject.

Anyway, we get legal wranglings, loopholes, and goddamned American Justice—which more surprisingly is followed by genuine Austrian justice. Interspersed with this are flashbacks of Altmann's story, which help give the painting its meaning.

And, can we be honest? This is an awful painting. Just gaudiness heaped on poor technique.

I kid. I wouldn't judge a painting without seeing it in person. (Whatever it is that makes artworks great does not survive electronic reproduction.)

Anyway, it's a decent enough survival story and a decent enough story of justice, we both thought, allowing for some personal prejudice because it's the sort of story we like. (The Boy, in particular, has a fondness for justice being achieved through clever application of the law, as in Amazing Grace.)

Now, if you haven't seen it, you might want to stop reading, because there was one aspect of the movie I thought totally catastrophic, and nearly ruined the film for me. I haven't seen anyone else mention it, so it could just be a Blake thing. But if I call your attention to it, you might not be able to watch the film without being distracted. So go see it first.

I'll put the thing that drove me nuts in the comments.

1 comment:

  1. The camera work. Or, more accurately, the "film" quality. Now, stuff is done digitally these days so "film quality" shouldn't be an issue, but it was just horrible here, driving me to distraction.

    At first I thought it was a way of signalling that we were in a flashback: Making the quality a little rougher for that old-timey feel. This was particularly noticeable in a party scene where the camera swirls through a crowd on a dance floor and everything is blurry.

    But then I noticed the contemporary footage had the SAME quality.

    And then I noticed that the ONLY thing EVER in focus was the foremost thing in the foreground. Things even just a few inches back began to get blurry.

    It was so bad—and I haven't heard anyone else mention this at all—I sort of think it had to be an issue with the venue.


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