…and you can barely feel it. Because in a certain sense, it isn’t quite “there.”
Remember that old story about Marlene Dietrich calling Fred Zinnemann to tell him that mobs of people were lined up for an opening-night showing of From Here to Eternity at Loews Capitol (B’way & 51st) and Zinnemann said “but there hasn’t been any promotion and publicity!” and Dietrich telling him “they can smell it”?
That’s what’s not happening with TAR right now. No one can “smell” a thing apart from highly suspicious assertions from critics (whom no one trusts at all) that it’s very good. And the safe assumption that Cate Blanchett is going to be Best Actress-nominated. Which I agree with.
Let me start again…
I’m not sure which trailers are more depressing to me personally — Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (Disney, 11.11), Black Adam (Warner Bros., 10.21) or Halloween Ends ((Universal, 10.14). They all feel like ironclad guarantees of this or that kind of dungeon entrapment.
The only trailer I can think of that doesn’t send me into a tailspin is Ticket to Paradise (Universal, 10.21), but that’s only because it promises a familiar and amiable ride — the bickering Bickersons (George Clooney, Julia Roberts) in Bali, trying to dissuade their daughter (Kaitlyn Dever, who doesn’t resemble either of them in the slightest way) from marrying a guy she doesn’t know all that well. The trailer says “this movie will not bite you or make you feel badly…it’ll be an easy sit.”
I was just thinking how I’d like to see Todd Field‘s about-to-open TAR yet again, but then I realized it’s only playing in a couple of Manhattan houses (Loew’s Lincoln Square, Angelika) with the wide break delayed until 10.28. A friend who saw it with me in Telluride says she’s having trouble remembering parts of it…that certain portions have liquified or vaporized in her brain.
“There’s no promise of an October blockbuster, like Venom: Let There Be Carnage or No Time to Die in 2021. Instead, the release schedule is peppered with tough little films of the sort that light up festivals, win awards and make critics fight — Tár, Till, The Swimmer, Call Jane, The Banshees of Inisherin, Armageddon Time and such.
“These are movies for insiders, to which outsiders — mass consumers — are invited on a very limited basis. That’s how the seasonal game is now played.”
TAR is such a brilliant, odd-duck, upper-stratosphere thing — elliptical and elusive, neither here nor there but at the same time alluring and fearless — that it makes insider types feel like outsiders.
It’s more about aroma than actual taste, and it refuses to come to you. And for a while that’s a turn-on…”piece by piece I’m putting it together,” you tell yourself during the first hour, “and eventually all the strands will come together…all will be revealed and known.”
Field is saying “no, you come to the film…it’ll require work on your part and maybe some feelings of uncertainty or frustration even, but when you finally get there you’ll feel sated and satisfied.”
Except a certain itchy feeling builds up as it goes along, and although TAR tantalizes and intrigues as it feeds you little hints of information and motivation (it’s basically about a brilliant Berlin-based conductor getting #Me-Too’ed to death) but without any of the meat-and-potatoes, Adrian Lyne-ish plot points and shock revealings that would tie it all together, at least for the dumb people in the room.
That’s what I didn’t like about TAR — it made me feel like a dumb-ass. I had to ask friends what had actually happened (or had seemed to happen) and even now I still don’t really get it. That’s why I want to see it for a third time, crazy as that might sound. Plus the fact that I love the cushy affluence of it all. The scarves, the great apartments, the five-star restaurants, the sublime lighting, etc. I wanted to move into TAR and never leave.