Film Reviews: Knowing The Score and Tár

I saw both these films last week.  Knowing The Score is a documentary about the conductor, Simone Young.  Tár is a fictional film about a female conductor played by Cate Blanchett who also is an executive producer for both films.  (If you are wondering what is the difference the producer handles on-set logistics, management, and supervision while the executive producer deals more with off-set issues like negotiating contracts, communicating with investors or studios, and maintaining the business face of production.)

There is no question that Knowing The Score is far and away the better film.  Rotten Tomatoes scores Tár at 91% by the critics and 74% by the audience.  Cate Blanchet is brilliant as the Maestro Lydia Tár but the film for the ordinary viewer such as myself does begin to drag in the second half.

Rotten Tomatoes does not have a rating for Knowing The Score but if you have a chance to see it do so.  The story of how Simone Young cracked the Glass Ceiling for conductors is a true hero’s story (a hero goes on an adventure, learns a lesson, wins a victory with that newfound knowledge, and then returns home transformed.)  Her love affair with Sydney and the Opera House is compelling viewing (particularly if you live here like I do).

Cate Blanchett has stated Tár is not about gender but politics and her portrayal of how a corporate psychopath can rise to the top is simply masterful.  I recently had an article published about corporate psychopaths and she matches the profile perfectly.  The first task for a corporate psychopath in a new position is to work out the power structure and the politics.  Then use flattery and sex to advance your cause.  Then at the top of the ladder ruthlessly remove those who have been loyal to you.

Discussing the film at my bridge club I was given one interesting explanation for the frequent references to Leonard Bernstein in Tár .  Supposedly he too was a sexual predator of both sexes and his own daughter in a memoir confirms this.  Lydia Tár is emulating Bernstein not just on the podium but in her private life.

The music in both films is glorious as you would expect. Prepare yourself for a lot Mahler.  If you want to read what Simone Young thinks about Tár and what she thinks is worth reading go to this article by Kelly Burke and published in the Guardian.

Postscript 1

I wrote this blog before the Oscars were announced.  Cate was the hot favourite for Best Actress but lost to Michelle Yeoh who was good in EEAAO, but as good as Cate is a good question.  Supposedly Michele won because Cate already has two Oscars.  On the other hand, there is no question Michelle should have won the Oscar in 2000 for Crouching Dragon, Hidden Tiger.

Postscript 2

Last night we went to Rhinestone Rex And Miss Monica, a reprise of David Williamson’s 2010 first attempt at a rom-com.  It is based on a true life story, a well-known woman in the arts who had renovated her house and eventually fallen in love with the guy who came to do it.  It was very funny and just like the films contained a lot of Mahler.

This blog was first published on LinkedIn on 17 March 2023




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