Reviewed byAndré-7Vote: 9/10
This may not be everyone's cup of tea, but it has a genuine, unpretentious charm to it that I found appealing.
Alan Rudolph made this delightful little ode to lies, trickery and delusion on a shoestring budget. The story of a failed painter down on his luck in Paris in the 1920's who accepts a comission to forge a famous impressionist painting. The film questions what is real versus what is perceived or subjective. In a series of criss-crossing subplots and seemingly random encounters Rudolph has fun playing with the trickery of film to made some sly points about the art forms we hold dear.
The film was shot in Montreal, Canada, standing in for Paris and New York in the 1920's, with French-Canadian actors playing Parisians... The plot twists include a millionaire art collector publicly slashing a priceless painting, thinking it a forgery, while the fake painting is sent to hang in a New York museum. A Dadaist poet fakes his own death in order to attend his funeral to hear the things people will say about him. Same character, named L'Oiseau is actually an American ex-patriate named Fagelman! In a toungue-in-cheek hommage to people's perception of the period, Rudolph has Papa Hemmingway hanging-out in all the cafe's and at all the parties... He is seemingly everywhere, sipping scotch and mouthing tough-guy cliches...
But the viewer must beware of what he is watching. In a scene where Bujold's character rides in a taxi with Carradine's we are treated to lovely rear projection shots through the cab's back window of impressionist paintings of Paris at night! In another dimly lit cafe scene Rudolph chose to end the scene by panning away from the action to the bar where among the extras in period costume, two punk rockers are watching a hockey game on t.v.
Reviewed byDane (dane11)Vote: 8/10
Alan Rudolph does not make movies for everyone to see. His movies seem like personal projects that interest him at the time. Some of his movies I haven't been able to get involved in (Trixie, Mortal Thoughts, Afterglow) but with The Moderns, I was pulled in quickly. The story focuses on Keith Carradine's ex-patriot Nick Hart, a painter who has the ability to duplicate famous works of art with his brush. He's hired to create forgeries by Mademoiselle de Ville (Geraldine Chaplin).
But the story doesn't stop there. There are other ex-patriots around, including young Ernest Hemingway, comically portrayed by Kevin J. O'Connor; who is constantly drinking, philosophizing and pursuing women. It's not a flattering look at Hemingway, but somehow it adds to the whole ambience of the film and seems to ring true. And then there is Linda Fiorentino, a former lover of Nick's, and her husband, the rich and icy Bertram Stone (John Lone). The characters are odd and quirky, the story is uneven at times, and meanders a bit, but it is never boring. This movie has such style and depth that it pulls the viewer in, like we're trying to see the work that is under the painted canvas. That's what this movie is about -- the greater depth of art. What is art and what is crap? What is love and what is hate? What is real and what is illusion? As a director, Alan Rudolph pulls us along cleverly, with a hint of intrigue, the dichotomy of Nick's love and Hemingway's carousing, a taste of passion and the beauty of art. Then there are the characters who are well-layered works of art themselves. Maybe this movie isn't a masterpiece, but it leaves us chipping away at the paint trying to see what treasure is underneath. It's a movie to be enjoyed
Reviewed byMichael NeumannVote: 8/10
Alan Rudolph subscribes to the idea of Art for Art's sake, and as such is a kindred spirit to all the expatriate painters, poets, writers, and failures who flocked to the cultural Mecca of Paris in the naughty 1920s. The Jazz Age setting is tailor made for the director's latest romantic daydream, crafted here into a tongue-in-cheek satire of passion and creativity. The cast features his usual assembly of lonely eccentrics, cynical anti-heroes, and world-weary women, rubbing shoulders with historical figures like Gertrude Stein and Ernest Hemingway, who at one point compares life in bohemian Paris to a "portable banquet". As always with Alan Rudolph the film is a grab bag of visual wit and verbal invention (coming, at times, dangerously close to self-parody), with the added virtues of sensuous camera-work and a moody music score by Mark Isham. This is one filmmaker with the rare ability to mock his own pretensions (as Wallace Shawn says in the film, "we're artists: temperamental people!"), and his preoccupation with the art of artifice has never been better presented. Too bad the conclusion is spoiled by a false happy ending, which wraps up too many loose ends too neatly.
Nick Hart is a struggling American artist who lives amongst the expatriate community in 1920s Paris. He spends most of his time drinking and socializing in local cafés and pestering gallery owner Libby Valentin to sell his paintings. He becomes involved in a plot by wealthy art patroness Nathalie de Ville to forge three paintings. This leads to several run-ins with American rubber magnate Bertram Stone, who happens to be married to Hart's ex-wife Rachel.