I’ve had a problematic relationship with Todd Field‘s Tar since first catching it six and a half months ago in Telluride, but I would vastly prefer it winning the Best Picture Oscar over the infuriating EEAAO. Because it’s a much richer and far more interesting package, for one thing. Anyone with any standards understands this.

But of course, Tar was never a serious Best Picture contender because Field refused — bravely or admirably, you could say — to make a film that was semi-accessible to your average none-too-bright or mental lazybones.

Field had a choice between making a film for the popcorn munchers or one that would delight Martin Scorsese and/or your typical Criterion Channel subscriber, and he obviously went for the latter.

Posted on 10.6.22: 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 cohere…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 that never happens. Not really. 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 TARit 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.