Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Ms. Hen reviews MR. TURNER

Directed by Mike Leigh

Ms. Hen loves films about crazy artists and writers. She stumbled upon MR. TURNER because she saw a preview, and she thought she would like it since it was about an artist. She remembered studying the painting THE SLAVE SHIP when she was a young undergrad hen. She was not an art major, but she had the option of taking an art survey course right before she graduated. Ms. Hen loves art, even though she might not understand everything about it.

What Ms. Hen enjoys the most about art are the stories that surround it. She loves learning about who the artists were and why they painted what they did, and how they went about doing their work.  J.M.W. Turner was a painter that worked in the middle of the nineteenth century in England. He mainly focused on ships and nautical scenes, adorned with blazing sunsets and violent skies.

The film opens up with Timothy Spall, who plays the artist, strolling through the Dutch countryside at dawn or sunset with the sun streaking the sky and nature in full bloom. He goes back to London and talks with his father about what he saw. He father buys his paints for him. At first, Ms. Hen thought Turner might have been a spoiled child, but it turns out that he took care of his father. There’s a scene at the beginning where his father is shaving him, and Ms. Hen thought that was odd, but later she found out that his father had worked as a barber.

The film follows Turner throughout the last years of his life. His father passes away, and the artist becomes depressed. He goes to the seaside on a ferry and rents a room from a couple and the husband tells him about his life as a marine carpenter and how he saw the slaves tossed into the ocean because they were simply cargo to the owner. The man said he had never seen such inhumanity and it haunted him to that day. Turner keeps going back to the rooming house and eventually starts a love affair with the woman after the husband passed away.

One of the most striking scenes in the film is when the artists were all in the gallery with their top hats and fighting over where their paintings were hung, and who had the best spot. All the men seem to be pumping their chests, but there are no women. Ms. Hen understands that there were no women artists in that era, and she thinks if there were any women present, the men might have behaved differently.

Turner was a showboat when he painted: he spit on the canvasses, he used cream and chocolate. A scene shows two women discussing how disgusting he is when he paints, but Turner does not seem to care. He does what he wants because he knows he is good at his work, and most of the artists surrounding him cannot touch his talent.

Ms. Hen decided Turner wasn’t crazy; he was just extremely eccentric. He was not the kind of person Ms. Hen would like to know. She thinks his personality would not fit with the 21st century.

Ms. Hen liked this movie because it was beautiful and she learned something about a brilliant artist, even though she didn’t like his character. But it was long and meandering, twisting through the artist’s life as if naturally with no direction or plot. She gives this film four feathers up.

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