If you are a film fan, movie buff or cinephile you will likely know all about these great ways to spend a Sunday afternoon curled up in front of your home big screen, or if you are more the fine art side of the aisle, maybe you have seen some of them at your local arts centre screenings, and should it be, heaven forbid, that you don’t know any of them bookmark this page and get to it
Lust for Life (1956)
Although there are more recent renderings of the life of the colossus of 19th Century brushwork such as Vincent & Theo (1990) starring Tim Roth as Vincent Van Gogh and focusing more on his relationship, mostly by letter, with his constantly compassionate and supportive brother Theo, played by Paul Rhys, there is something unparalleled about the visceral energy offered in the acting of Kirk Douglas in his portrayal of the flame haired painter.
Where Loving Vincent (2017) was a technical triumph in its union of genuine oil painting, animation and live acting, the first of its kind, such a style creates a distance from the agony and humanity that Douglas’ performance pours into the character. Plus the majestic Anthony Quinn as Paul Gauguin. Perfect.
The artwork of Austrian Gustav Klimt is unique, and the same goes for the acting style of Illinois born John Malkovich who portrays the artist in this film. Malkovich brings to Raoul Ruiz’s work, the right legacy of sexual tension and eye for the female form that would refer back to his portrayal of the Vicomte de Valmont in Stephen Frears acclaimed Dangerous Liaisons (1988).
Klimt's eye for the nubile and the decision to depict it so uniquely, provides the necessary social scandal and perceived decadence of the work and position of the artist against the backdrop of Vienna at the time of the finale of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
Ed Harris as Jackson Pollock
Fans of the HBO series on the birth of consciousness in artificial intelligence, Westworld, will be more familiar with Ed Harris wearing a ubiquitous black hat, but his physicality, including bald pate, were made for this turn as the abstract expressionist figure Jackson Pollock.
The gruffness, grumbling, alcoholism, mark making and paint splashing that brought to life the artist’s most notable works, such as Summertime (1948), in the late 40s and early 50s, is faithfully presented by Harris in this film that he also directed and produced, bringing an Oscar winning performance from his co-star Marcia Gaye-Harden as fellow expressionist artist and Pollock’s wife, Lee Krasner.
Mr. Turner (2014)
Timothy Spall as J.M.W. Turner
English film director Mike Leigh has a unique methodology when making his films, that in addition to improvisation as the foundation for the characters and the script itself, also includes deliberately withholding aspects of a story from cast members until scenes are filmed so as to ensure a response ‘in character’ from the actors that is unique to that moment.
This style, in conjunction with a preference to work with selected actors repeatedly, in this case Timothy Spall in the lead role as English Romantic painter J.M.W. Turner has appeared in 3 of Leigh’s previous projects lending a unique and familial telling to the latter part of the life of the great artist.
Oviri or The Wolf at the Door (1986)
Paul Gauguin and actor Donald Sutherland
Danish film-maker Henning Carlsen made films in multiple languages throughout his 61 year and 23 film career. This English language piece sees the still underrated Donald Sutherland as Paul Gauguin returning to Paris after his period in the south sea island of Tahiti with a wagon load of what would be, until after his death, misunderstood works.
The synthetist artist spent a decade on the island and would raise more than eyebrows amongst contemporaries and historians of his life having married a 13 year old during this time.
Sutherland brings his usual wry smile and dry wit to the character, not to mention a rare instance of an actor actually bearing a genuine physical resemblance to the person he is portraying.
This film is a biopic of two artists in one, so the title can be taken to describe the family name that adjoins that of painter and father Pierre-Auguste, (Michel Bouquet) and film director son Jean.
The story depicts the return of Jean, played by Vincent Rottiers from the western front in 1915, to recover from a sustained knee injury, and not untypically of films about artists, and French cinema alike, involves the inspiraton of a muse, in this case one Andrée Heuschling, played by actress Christa Théret, who was to be the final model of the elder Renoir and the first wife of the younger as well as an actress in 15 of his films.