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high art

High Art

Ally Sheedy, Radha Mitchell, Patricia Clarkson, Bill Sage and Tammy Grimes
Written and Directed by Lisa Cholodenko
Website: www.octoberfilms.com/highart/

IN SHORT: Aaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrgggggghhh

Cranky is very pleased that Ally Sheedy found a script to get excited about. Cranky is also pleased that writer/director Lisa Cholodenko took home the Waldo Salt from Sundance (it's the screenwritering award) because film writing is a very difficult thing. Yes it's true the dialog in High Art is very lifelike and would probably have found a more appreciative Cranky had the entire project not bored him to tears.

That's not exactly the truth. Way, way back in the most dark accesses of Cranky's mind lives what's left of the film student that once was. That portion of Cranky's life is locked away, chained, roped and manacled down to a hard wood plank studded with steely knives, and then boxed (and the box again chained, roped and manacled) and locked in a closet whose door is Krazy Glued shut. And nailed. And boarded. And it's giving me a royal headache 'cuz it's jumping around having the time of it's life.

For the rest of us real people, enduring High Art; 105 minutes feels like 360 and, short of those who still have film student brains or who hang out at the local ArtPlex, High Art should be avoided like the proverbial plague.

The story of Syd (Radha Mitchell), a photo magazine assistant editor who rediscovers major photoartist Lucy Berliner (Sheedy) and discovers infatuation and love. Lucy lives off a trust fund with her lesbian junkie lover and former German movie star, Greta (Patricia Clarkson). They and their friends snort up major lines of heroin and spend the rest of their lives nodding off. The previously meek and clean Syd discovers that getting high gets you real horny but puts you to sleep before you can do anything about it. Her boyfriend (Bill Sage, as a character much like Jon Bon Jovi in No Looking Back) splits when Syd becomes more attached to Lucy. Syd's magazine superiors exploit the relationship, though they don't know the extent until nearly the end. Tossed into the mix is Tammy Grimes as Lucy's Holocaust surviving, German hating mother. This doesn't add much to the story other than a bit of character development. A very small bit. Other than that High Art is all snorting and sex.

Writing as a Jew with Holocaust survivors in the family, there is no way that the Grimes character would own a Mercedes-Benz automobile. Absolutely none. Nor would she keep one for her daughter's use, as is the case in the movie.

Writing as a male breeder, the lesbian sex in High Art, though plentiful, wasn't sexy. That was probably the point, but it would have been at minimum a nice diversion. The lines of heroin snorted by the characters were larger than any line of coke I, uh, saw back in the disco days of the 70s and 80s. If the lines had been real, the entire cast would have been either dead or comatose within ten minutes of the start. (We made a lot of mistakes back in the disco heyday, please don't do the same.)

Cranky can only sit so long waiting for a character based flick to start to play out a story that captivates and compels. High Art does neither.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to High Art, he would have paid...


One for the film student inside . . .

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