Sunday, January 4, 2015

Mr. Turner [2014]

MPAA (R)  ChicagoTribune (4 Stars) (3 1/2 Stars)  AVClub (B+)  Fr. Dennis (2 1/2 Stars)

IMDb listing
ChicagoTribune (M. Phillips) review (M. Zoller Seitz) review
AVClub (A.A. Dowd) review  

CineVue-Cannes (J. Bleasedale) review (4/5)
CineVeu (C.Williams) review (5/5)
EyeForFilm (R. Mowe) review (4/5) review (5/5)
SlantMagazine (C. Cabin) review (3.5/4)

To be truthful, I was not overly impressed by Mr. Turner [2014] (written and directed by Michael Leigh) a British bio-pic about 19th century artist J.M.W. Turner (played in the film by Timothy Spall).  To be sure, THE CINEMATOGRAPHY was often stunning producing still or lingering panoramic shots that replicate the dewy shimmering tones, often facing into an afternoon sun, of the landscape paintings for which the artist was famous.  Anyone with some experience with a camera would appreciate the difficulty of these kind of shots ... to get the tones just right, remarkable!

But if Mr Turner "had an eye" for the subtleties of light, in other aspects, he was portrayed in the film as a veritable Neanderthal.  As portrayed, he grunted most of his speech, and when he made the occasional sexual advance on some poor woman that he had become fond of (he apparently considered himself "entitled" to that sort of thing...), the portrayal truly left me speechless.  By midway through the movie, I was wondering: "Couldn't they have just put a club in his hands?"  As presented, his "M.O." was just that appalling ;-)

So what to make of a film like this?  The "Masterpiece Theater" / Downton Abbey [2010-] crowd would probably eat this film up.  However, with the exception of some of the often stunning outdoor cinematography, I found myself "rolling my eyes" at Turner's "cave man" demeanor and glancing at my watch (a lot ...) looking forward to the film's eventual end. 

So cinematography aside, this film is certainly not for everyone.

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