TÁR, the cancel culture conversation piece of the year starring Cate Blanchett and Nina Hoss and directed by Todd Field

Message Bookmarked
Bookmark Removed

Also the hot Halloween costume of the year, judging by my social feeds.

Eric H., Tuesday, 1 November 2022 00:40 (three weeks ago) link

I know you hate Todd Field, but I thought Little Children and In the Bedroom were both pretty good at the time. Haven't seen them since they came out though.

Dan S, Tuesday, 1 November 2022 00:56 (three weeks ago) link

In the Bedroom merely ruined a Christmas Day movie fest; Little Children is among the 10 worst movies I've seen this century

Eric H., Tuesday, 1 November 2022 00:58 (three weeks ago) link

That is a strong reaction. In retrospect I don't think the pedophile stuff in Little Children was that believable or was handled that well, and maybe it was meant to express some sort of homophobia.

It is such a weird and memorable film though, with a forbidden romance between two suburban married people in the foreground. I will have to see it again.

Dan S, Tuesday, 1 November 2022 01:30 (three weeks ago) link

I liked both of those films, I'm left with one indelible image from each - the father lying in bed after he has had his revenge, and the pervert son reading the posthumous note from his mother (which I understand someone could see as bathetic).

Halfway there but for you, Tuesday, 1 November 2022 01:31 (three weeks ago) link

so no one actually talked about TÁR on the TÁR thread? saw it yesterday and it's still marinating but i loved it. blanchett is amazing, but her wife and her assistant are also both great. i saw they auditioned cellists for the role of olga but presumably all the other orchestra members are actual non-acting musicians, some of whom give great acting micro-performances too.

i feel like the vague balance in perspective (or lack of perspective, as some might think of it) will be frustrating to some viewers - you get the impression of lydia as not being a very nice or good person but the movie also doesn't seem to be against her, or for her, but just presenting her

and for a movie with a very dry sense of humor, that final scene is a genuine LOL moment

na (NA), Monday, 7 November 2022 15:26 (two weeks ago) link

i have seen neither of the other two todd field movies (sounded too melodramatic for me) so i just think of him as the eyes wide shut jazz pianist

na (NA), Monday, 7 November 2022 15:28 (two weeks ago) link

also re: "cancel culture conversation piece" - the part of the movie that is explicitly about cancel culture (as i understand it) is pretty minimal. there are more parallels to #MeToo than cancel culture, and really the movie is broadly about power dynamics

na (NA), Monday, 7 November 2022 15:53 (two weeks ago) link

I've procrastinated because of the length and b/c Field and Blanchett don't inspire me (Blanchett in particular I'm cold and colder on) but I'll probably go in the next few days. Thanks for the push.

Malevolent Arugula (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 7 November 2022 15:59 (two weeks ago) link

Yeah NA otm… the cancel culture stuff seemed to me like a plot device invoked only as much as it needed to be in order to talk about power and complicity, not something the film was interested in discussing in & of itself. Framing it like a movie “about” cancel culture reminds me of people who felt The Irishman was making some kind of statement about the American labor movement.

I generally like Blanchett, I don’t think her performance was the stunning tour de force that some are describing it as but its a good one that holds together a very good film imo

nobody like my rap (One Eye Open), Monday, 7 November 2022 16:40 (two weeks ago) link

It is good indeed, her performance and the film, and the fact that you have to spend time piecing together context (but never in a way that makes you lose sight of the story's relentless flow -- it's all centered around Blanchett's character and needs to be in this case) is a big key to it. (In a weird but real way, Rose Green's Saint Maud from the other year serves as a similar model, in that Morfydd Clark is relentlessly the center of her own drama, with a [much MUCH different] final scene to end it all. So clearly the sign is to cast actresses who have played Galadriel in such roles.)

I will give it sound edit credit alone. There's a particular moment that I won't bother to signal or describe but if you're in a good sound system setup it will knock you flat, a pure thrill, where the imperious intention also serves as a telling point.

Ned Raggett, Monday, 7 November 2022 17:49 (two weeks ago) link

saw this last night and broadly enjoyed it a lot, tho its a tiny try-hard a couple of time maybe: like horror moments where you want to say turn yr lights on at this point and 2moro mend yr fridge you are not short of cash

the cancel-culture element felt minor and fairly add-on: ilike three-quarters of the way thru the project todd field thought oh wait i'll have to deal with this side of things also and then also decided to skimp it -- it doesn't depict the protesters with much interest (or tbf really even try to: mobs and social media remain very derailing for cinema as a subject)

i genuinely enjoyed the movie's heel-turn at the end, from the start i'd been snorting with amusement at small cartoonish elements of character where the set up was TOO MUCH ALREADY and subverting the intensity, and not just of blanchett's highly controlled and increasingly absurd performance and long-hair hair-work -- the cosplay audience (which was very lovingly done and kind of redeemed the skimped anti-mob element earlier) also made me want to go back and see the degree to which comedy was the intended mode all along even though the horror moments seems out of step with this?

for a soon-to-be-professional cellist i tht sophie krauer is an excellent actor (the strad magazine ran a piece arguing basically "of course all great virtuosos are also a kind of actor" which seems to be pushing it but )

at one point during an early rehearsal i had a great sad wave of nostalgia for when i was a part of such orchestras (i mean not the berlin phil lol, basically not very good school and college orchestras, but the physical setting of being among all these ppl with their beloved instruments gave me a pang, the noises and of such a room, the smell of polished wood and rosin and so on -- myself i haven't been there for 40-odd years and i finally gave sold my bass to a friend's nephew last year 😔😢)

also i larfed non-stop at once particularly nonsensical joek = when sophie krauer as cellist was dressed up nice for a proper performance in the SEINFELD PUFFY SHIRT, this was someon's choice for her look

mark s, Sunday, 20 November 2022 11:15 (six days ago) link

Often LOL funny, sometimes excruciating. I can't imagine any actress except maybe the young Judy Davis in the role, which didn't mean Blanchett didn't figure in the excruciating parts. Todd Goddamn Field is sharper about his milieu than Ruben Östlund is about his.

Malevolent Arugula (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 21 November 2022 21:34 (five days ago) link

I thought the film was fantastic, and had been waiting for an essay like this one to come along:

It didn’t occur to me until I left a showing of “Tár” that the movie does all sorts of things that I’d normally find intolerable in a narrative about a powerful person accused of sexual misconduct. The camera stays glued to Lydia, using long takes and few establishing shots, and rarely straying from her point of view. The victims are barely fleshed out or else absent altogether, their accusations only referred to in passing, their testimonies unheard. We catch only the first lines of Krista’s desperately confused e-mails. One of the few characters to challenge Lydia directly—a “bipoc pangender”-identifying Juilliard student who struggles to connect with Bach because of his “misogynistic life”—is not given the time to make a full or coherent argument for a more inclusive canon. But making the forces that threaten Lydia’s stature as muted to the viewer as they are to her turns out to be a highly effective way of conveying the insidiousness of power. Lydia does not have to contend with other people’s humanity—nor offer hers to them. The film immerses viewers in Lydia’s world of extreme control, which is to say, extreme isolation.

I did not feel that such immersion was intended to evoke empathy for Lydia, at least not unquestioningly. Roger Ebert famously likened movies to “a machine that generates empathy.” “Tár” generates something more like empathy horror. A crowd at the Venice Film Festival reportedly cheered as Lydia dressed down the Juilliard student, identifying with her exhaustion in the face of cultural sensitivities, and perhaps instinctively siding with a person whose greatness the film has gone to great lengths to establish. I wonder how the audience felt once it became clear how far she’d gone to silence others. The film itself is masterfully made, aggressively sleek, confident and clever. I delighted at its niche cultural references, thought I saw Cate Blanchett commune with the divine, and even, somehow, cried. But through all it reveals about the cost of artistic greatness and the ruse of prestige, “Tár” casts even its own achievements as untrustworthy.

I still value the sanctity of the artist-audience exchange, but it worries me when conversations about artists’ misdeeds end up centering on it. When an artist is revealed to have abused someone, we ask, “Can we still like their art? Is it still O.K. to?” These questions treat every individual’s response to art as a morality test. They confuse optics with ethics, muddying a useful distinction between reacting to a work of art—an act that, after all, is something visceral and involuntary, like laughter—and materially supporting it. Discussions around accountability and practical consequences for abusers get sidelined in favor of abstract exercises around taste and identity. Justice appears to have been served merely because a legacy has been tainted. I do not mean to suggest that art works can be divorced from social context, only that our reactions to them are not, in themselves, public statements, acts of harm, or good deeds.

Lydia also monitors her own and others’ reactions to art, albeit for virtues of a different kind. “You’ve got to sublimate yourself, your ego, and, yes, your identity,” she says to her students, with disdain, imagining that they are constricted by arbitrary rules of their own making, whereas she approaches music from a neutral place of surrender. Her exhortation is ironic, though, given how much she has invested in her own persona–her identity, you could say–and the career she's built on it. She may deride the idea that a student would attend Juilliard for its “brand,” but the school’s brand helps to uphold her own. “Tár” is less interested in explaining the relationship between genius and cruelty than in showing how both collaborate with power—as derived from the brands, the institutions, and all their virtuous pretense—to create a shield against accountability.

https://www.newyorker.com/culture/cultural-comment/what-tar-knows-about-the-artist-as-abuser/amp

k3vin k., Friday, 25 November 2022 22:45 (yesterday) link

Pretty much on the same page with Alfred here minus the Blanchett hate. Finally Todd Field made something that wasn't terrible.

عباس کیارستمی (Eric H.), Saturday, 26 November 2022 00:15 (twenty hours ago) link

a “bipoc pangender”-identifying Juilliard student who struggles to connect with Bach because of his “misogynistic life”

the rest of this better be really good because this is fucking embarrassing

your original display name is still visible (Left), Saturday, 26 November 2022 00:55 (nineteen hours ago) link

did a fake SJW sockpuppet account from 4chan write that character because it sounds about that level of writing/understanding

your original display name is still visible (Left), Saturday, 26 November 2022 01:10 (nineteen hours ago) link

Field's direction of that character to constantly be pumping his anxiety-ridden leg throughout the scene does him no favors, either

عباس کیارستمی (Eric H.), Saturday, 26 November 2022 01:19 (nineteen hours ago) link

the rest of this better be really good because this is fucking embarrassing

― your original display name is still visible (Left), Friday, November 25, 2022 7:55 PM (one hour ago) bookmarkflaglink

I implore you to actually read the essay and or watch the film

k3vin k., Saturday, 26 November 2022 02:08 (eighteen hours ago) link

they won't

Fash Gordon (Neanderthal), Saturday, 26 November 2022 02:22 (eighteen hours ago) link

I read the piece (having read a couple of more negative/ambivalent ones previously) and will probably watch the film eventually but if this minor character sounding like something out of a bari weiss column is justified thematically somehow I'll be impressed

your original display name is still visible (Left), Saturday, 26 November 2022 02:24 (eighteen hours ago) link

Oh Nina Hoss is really really good in this too btw

عباس کیارستمی (Eric H.), Saturday, 26 November 2022 02:30 (eighteen hours ago) link

yeah I said as much in the detrius thread

Malevolent Arugula (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Saturday, 26 November 2022 02:32 (eighteen hours ago) link

I do love the tossed-off gag about Marlon Brando's imported alligators (presumably during the filming of Apocalypse Now making the river permanently un-swimmable by locals.

عباس کیارستمی (Eric H.), Saturday, 26 November 2022 02:47 (seventeen hours ago) link

I read the piece (having read a couple of more negative/ambivalent ones previously) and will probably watch the film eventually but if this minor character sounding like something out of a bari weiss column is justified thematically somehow I'll be impressed

― your original display name is still visible (Left), Friday, November 25, 2022 9:24 PM (thirty-one minutes ago) bookmarkflaglink

life is…so much more complex than you make it seem

k3vin k., Saturday, 26 November 2022 02:57 (seventeen hours ago) link

To that end, that's precisely what makes this very much officially an anti-"cancel culture" movie, no matter how much grey area Field and Blanchett build into the apparatus ... They practically double underline the idea that "there's more to every story" etc.

عباس کیارستمی (Eric H.), Saturday, 26 November 2022 02:58 (seventeen hours ago) link

I’m sorry no offense but there simply must be more to life than reading a few second-rate synopses of a genuinely challenging work of art and developing a whole point of view based on little more than that

k3vin k., Saturday, 26 November 2022 03:02 (seventeen hours ago) link

I agree!

عباس کیارستمی (Eric H.), Saturday, 26 November 2022 03:03 (seventeen hours ago) link

Also, to pull things down into the gutter, a quote from J3ffr3y W311s' allergic reaction to the movie:

All kinds of exposition is deliberately left out of Tar, and it’s triggering. I’m sorry but Tar takes forever to get going (at least 45 minutes if not longer), and once it does it’s too elliptical, too fleeting, too oblique, too teasing and (I guess) too smart for its own good. It made me feel dumb, and I really hate that.

Anything that both makes him understand that he is, in fact, a stupid person AND makes him say he felt "triggered" ... chef's kiss.

عباس کیارستمی (Eric H.), Saturday, 26 November 2022 03:04 (seventeen hours ago) link

Also, the very idea that I'm actually wrestling with a Todd Fucking Field movie means I too am getting my just desserts

عباس کیارستمی (Eric H.), Saturday, 26 November 2022 03:09 (seventeen hours ago) link

i had the opposite reaction as tavi g. both tár's partner (nina hoss) and her assistant francesca (noemie merlant) were wet blankets--jealous, petty, all anxious concerned expressions and worried furrowed brows--while lydia is fabulous and ebullient. her deep connection to music gives her terrestrial presences a delightful levity. even her slam poetry-inflected boomer rant in the "pangender BIPOC" scene is, against all odds, kind of a banger. the scene where she threatens the kid in german--so good! she also wears great outfits throughout

framing one's whole reaction to the movie around the assumption that lydia is an "abuser" misses the fact that the movie is (imho quite intentionally) highly ambiguous about whether she was abusive at all. it leaves out key details of her relationships with krista and francesca, and the scene where olga vulgarly slurps her food cuts against the assumption that their relationship is an abuse of power; if anything olga is the one using tar. it's (not that subtly) making a "meta" point about cancel culture in turning the audience against lydia without actually showing us anything incriminating

flopson, Saturday, 26 November 2022 10:29 (ten hours ago) link

Tár also made Hoss and Merlant into wet blankets, to be clear: she ground them down.

Malevolent Arugula (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Saturday, 26 November 2022 10:46 (nine hours ago) link

yes. and flops, one of the central points of that essay, and at least in my opinion one of the strengths of the film, is that the film allows us to render a fairly firm judgment despite deliberately leaving key pieces of information uncorroborated, at least literally speaking. I suppose field could have shown us scenes of krista prior to her death, or her parents confronting lydia in court, but would this really have added anything to the film? has anyone come across a review that genuinely seems to think lydia is innocent?

k3vin k., Saturday, 26 November 2022 12:46 (seven hours ago) link

whoops that was supposed to be spoiler tag, I’m getting old

k3vin k., Saturday, 26 November 2022 12:47 (seven hours ago) link

How Todd Fucking Field made a movie about a guilty person and asked, "How can we still have fun?" is the most surprising thing about Tár .

Malevolent Arugula (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Saturday, 26 November 2022 12:54 (seven hours ago) link

i don't think the BIPOC scene is at all well handled content-wise* but you come out of it (well i came out of it) already knowing that LT was a bully who absolutely shouldn't be teaching even if her antagonist was basically delivered as a twerp pulling studenty stunts. i fully disliked lydia from then on and was hoping for the comeuppance she deserved.

*bcz there's several real issues to it, and they're delivered as no more than hurried cartoons (actually on both sides, tho lydia's has far the better delivery mainly bcz cate). of course the entire movie is a very controlled cartoon and that's good -- but it's mainly a different kind of cartoon

as observed above this entire strand to me feels like minor business sellotaped in at the last minute, like field belatedly felt it "had to be there" but didn't then put the work in to ensure it wasn't basically a red herring (while also helping himself over-painlessly to a plot point or two plus some handy arc machinery). my guess is that he felt the (to repeat: belated) work needed fleshing out this conflict and the real issues attached, wd overset the tone and content of the rest of the film (and i think he's right).

mark s, Saturday, 26 November 2022 13:08 (seven hours ago) link

That trembling knee is the equivalent of Captain Queeg and the steel ball.

Malevolent Arugula (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Saturday, 26 November 2022 13:17 (seven hours ago) link

i mean he's called queeg

mark s, Saturday, 26 November 2022 13:19 (seven hours ago) link

Knowing that the movie had a "cancel culture" angle, I spent the first half waiting for something to come of the Juilliard scene (which is fairly early). I kept thinking, "Look at Tar, oblivious to what's about to happen." But when it does come, it seems relatively inconsequential on its own, or at least it has a slightly different import than one might have predicted from the original scene: It's leaked to support the accusations against Tar in the context of Krista's suicide, as an example of her imperiousness and abuse of power. The Bach/BIPOC stuff is superficially salacious, but it's not really the point.

In fact, while I was anticipating the consequences of the Juilliard scene, the movie was quietly demonstrating how all of Tar's relationships and interactions are suffused with perverse power dynamics, but this becomes apparent only through accretion because the movie withholds other people's perspectives. In some ways, I feel like the Juilliard scene is almost intentionally heavy-handed, to show that her character's real abuses are more insidious.

jaymc, Saturday, 26 November 2022 15:58 (four hours ago) link

I guess I'm saying that it is kind of a red herring! But not completely unrelated to the broader revelations.

jaymc, Saturday, 26 November 2022 16:09 (four hours ago) link

Another comparison to Östlund: https://boxd.it/3tcs3V

Maybe people genuinely, genuinely think this guy is the shit. But... I very much doubt this movie has a second and third life in the discourse cycle. It's disposable. TÁR was a little calculated for me but it's a high masterpiece next to Triangle of Sadness and I'm glad I saw them on consecutive days to be able to further appreciate what the Todd Field has to offer.

عباس کیارستمی (Eric H.), Saturday, 26 November 2022 16:47 (three hours ago) link

yes. and flops, one of the central points of that essay, and at least in my opinion one of the strengths of the film, is that the film allows us to render a fairly firm judgment despite deliberately leaving key pieces of information uncorroborated, at least literally speaking. I suppose field could have shown us scenes of krista prior to her death, or her parents confronting lydia in court, but would this really have added anything to the film? has anyone come across a review that genuinely seems to think lydia is innocent?

― k3vin k., Saturday, November 26, 2022 7:46 AM (five hours ago) bookmarkflaglink

ya idk i disagree. i felt see that the film is trying really hard to do the opposite, to keep the judgment ambiguous. from an interview with todd fields

The film is an examination of a downfall, recognition, and even potential rebuild of an artist abusing power that they’ve gained over time. How difficult was it to create a balance on this issue without tilting your hand to one side or the other when making it? And do you think the audience should remain neutral when looking at Lydia and her actions?

TF: I think the audience has to do what the audience wants to do. We built this thing for a very particular purpose. We built this thing so that there was the ability to ask questions about her behavior and to have a real stake in your feelings about it, whether you judged her one way or the other, or maybe you changed your mind about her, or…

When Monika Willi and I were editing, we were out in the middle of nowhere working seven-day weeks, and when we would watch the film down, at different points, we would always turn to each other and say the same thing. It was, “How did you feel about her today?” And sometimes those feelings would be very contradictory from the previous viewing. So, it wasn’t like… We really tried to approach it, if I can be so bold as to say, in a humble way, which is that we weren’t trying to draw any lines about… We weren’t looking for outcome, we weren’t looking to do equational narrative. We were looking for as much possibility of interpretation as possible. Not to be intentionally vague or obscure or anything like that, just that all of it was available, and there’s no wrong answer, you know?

flopson, Saturday, 26 November 2022 19:09 (one hour ago) link

the real controversy is not about whether lydia tár is abusive, a bad person, cancel-worthy, etc., but whether she is a real person

flopson, Saturday, 26 November 2022 19:14 (one hour ago) link


You must be logged in to post. Please either login here, or if you are not registered, you may register here.