Ed Harris's passion project POLLOCK (2000) chronicles the life of the abstract expressionist painter Jackson Pollock. Underneath the fascinating character study of an alcoholic, bi-polar artistic genius, this is a love story at its core. Pollock's wife, an influential artist in her own right Lee Krasner, was instrumental in establishing his genius motivated by a recognition of his dazzling talent but more importantly because she knows that is when Pollock is at his most fulfilled. At times vibrant, at times depressing and dark and a story that ends in tragedy, this is an Oscar winning movie on a fascinating subject that we all had managed somehow to miss. Don't make the same mistake as us and check this out.
Right themed content once again, and I put the mid-week out to a vote. Dan, you had the casting vote. It was between Pollock and.
That's right. Two pretty similar films. And you went for Pollock, which I was excited about because I'd want it to see this since I hadn't really actually, but I did see the trailer a long time ago and I thought I'd like to see that.
And then I forgot about it. And when I remembered it for this, then I was like, you know, I do want to see that. So I was glad that you'd pick this one
Dan: I didn't know existed, but it's just the kind of film that I would really want to go and watch. So I was excited to see it
Sidey: It's a biopic, it's a biopic of Jackson Pollock, and it's a sort of passion project of ed Harris who was really into the story
Reegs: and really looks like him.
Sidey: look a lot like
Dan: crazy, which is how we got into it because his dad had given him a book when he was a kid saying, you looked like Jackson Pollock, which isn't a great thing for a dad to say to a kid.
But I guess I was like, look, you're bored at 17. So I'm going to give you this book
Reegs: bolding alcoholic.
Sidey: so, yeah, he stars as Jason bought, but you also directed the movie.
Dan: Yeah. He and I like it. Harrison, this was off, off my radar, but then I found out actually it was in the running for Oscars and shit. This,
Reegs: well, we'll get onto
Dan: we will get onto that in due course.
Dan: don't know who Jackson Pollock is, could you explain for the, for the viewers,
Reegs: he's an artist,
Dan: he's an artist.
There you go. He was the one that did all the, the kind of stuff.
Sidey: the splatter.
Dan: the splatter effect.
Sidey: the kind of art that will polarize, but because there'll be a lot of people, a lot of people who'll just say it's just fucking
Dan: goes over their head,
Reegs: Yeah. But I've been on that journey. I've been through that. And then you come
Sidey: but it's a fact, but it's the fact that there will be lots of people who will say that. That's what it is. I would just disregard this, like right out of the gate.
Reegs: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Dan: no, it's
Reegs: Have you ever seen Peter, Peter, Peter. Andre is here. He hasn't seen the movie, so I'm not sure to the extent he's going to chip in, but you instantly put your hand up there at the it's all pretentious bullshit for the, have you seen.
That's all I would say about, have you seen one real like live in cause that's what changed it for me
Reegs: a real Jackson Pollock from the paint
Pete: Where, where would one C1?
Reegs: in London, you can see I've got
Pete: six London just on the streets.
Reegs: no, no, this got six at the Tate modern
Pete: No, cause I haven't been to the site. I'm not I'm not ready.
Like when I,
Reegs: of it's great.
Some, yeah, some of it is right. I went there once where they had somebody had taken a photo of like a time-lapse thing of something that they blown up a garden shed. And it was just like a few milliseconds after the shed had been blown up and then they taken all the pieces and they'd reassembled it in the room as that photograph at that moment and other bits.
So it was like you were in the experience of that. That was really fucking
Sidey: I still want, and it was just office blinds just hung in there. I thought this is, this is the line from F is fucking bullshit.
Reegs: Well, there's a lot of
Dan: first time I ever heard of Jackson Pollock was when sways came out of the toilet after a particularly heavy night and big Curry.
And he goes, I've done a Jackson Pollock in the toilet. And I was like, what does that mean? Found out it's this kind of splatter effect. So whenever after that I had
Dan: his paintings and everything. And and yeah, it was an association without story, but I like his, I like his stuff. I don't know why it's like, you know,
Reegs: I like the drip stuff I do. I do. But, but we can get into that because there's like a little mini tour of it. Cause he didn't start out that way. And
is that like the planet, like cans of paint, like hanging? and you like poke a hole in it and then swing it round on it And it
Sidey: that's Damien Hirst or
Sidey: actually his students that do
Pete: Big Lebowski
Dan: when that goes doing it.
Sidey: now here's this is like, just gets the brush. It's a reaction rate
Pete: just like flicking, flicking
of paper with paint. Yeah. It's fucking
Reegs: more than that. It's more than that anyway. Right?
Pete: hope we
find out how
Reegs: in this movie that we've all watched we open with Pollock at an exhibition. It's his exhibition it's 1950, and a woman is pushing through the crowd with a copy of life magazine in her hands.
And he's clearly at the high of six. Signing autographs. And he glances across the room. And then we cut back nine years to 1941 and he's drunk and being helped up the stairs by his brother. And he shout and abuse at Picasso
Dan: Yeah, they're having a good time though. They've had a few drinks as we learn, he liked. But at this stage he was kind of, he hadn't found any fame but it was at a good time and he was living an artist life wasn't.
He was how you'd expect that
Reegs: Well he was impoverished and he lived with his brother and sister-in-law, and they there's tension there. They want him out because she's expecting a baby and Pollock is a hopeless alcoholic. And then one day, but he is painting. You can see in the background, some of his stuff, it's sort of Picasso influenced this like strong lines and bold colors and
Dan: to me as well, because again, I didn't know enough about Jackson Pollock, really to, to know that he had all this earliest stuff that
Reegs: Yeah So he was a surrealist and that's what brings Lee Krasner, who was an artist in her own. Right. That's what brings her into his life that she she's met? She's, she's played by Marcia gay harden. You'd you'd recognize her. She, she was in Miller's crossing. She was in flubber which you probably remember.
And she was probably known best to me as the horrible Mrs. Carr Modi was the religious fanatic in the Stephen King thing, the mist and
Dan: I didn't see that, but I did work in ISO and yeah, she just kind of knocked on the door, looking for other painters
Reegs: when she seen all the surrealists in New York, but she hasn't seen.
so she just kind of invites herself in and he's in a mood which allows that. And I think he's a little bit taken by her quite quickly. And they end up going for coffee and dating and they begin a relationship and she seems actually really good for him. In the fact that
Reegs: well, he's not a big talker Izzy.
So every sentence is kind of pulled out of him. He's really the stereotypical tortured artist
Dan: And ed
Reegs: paintings are dazzling.
Dan: ed Harris, his performance in this, I think is fantastic. I know that there's lots of, he's got that face for it. You know, I hadn't seen, I actually looked at what Jackson Pollock looked like after this
Reegs: meeting meeting
Dan: and found out fucking oh yeah, it was. And then read the stuff about his dad giving him the book because it was his uncanny, the resemblance between him and
Is his performance I thought was, was really strong.
Reegs: So they do start to fall in love, but she she's also his manager and his sort of biggest fan. And she wants him to, to continue painting because she knows when he's painting. That's when he's at his best. He goes on a bender after his brother says that he's going to Connecticut to make gliders for the army to avoid conscription.
Which was where it made me. Oh, man, all that talk about conscription made me think about those poor bastards in Ukraine. Like getting dragged off buses, like people, our age.
And, but just being conscripted,
Dan: I think whatever you watch these days, you can draw parallels to what's going on in the world in some way, shape or form.
Reegs: but he doesn't take it. Well, he's like doing like frenzy drumming to a Benny Goodman tune in the kitchen and he goes really mad. And then he goes on a massive bender
Dan: I know. I wouldn't know what to call his, his men liberalness really, because
Reegs: it's depression and alcoholism. And I think he's a bit, you know, he's got, I don't know if they call it bipolar is the very big swings of mood.
Sidey: Clinically neurotic in the but I don't know if that's an actual diagnosis or not.
Dan: Well, he certainly, when he receives bad news, he's uncontrollable in his emotions. And,
Reegs: but it's not always depression though. Because you know, we do get a few jumps in time and we meet Howard parcel and Rubin Kaddish, which might just be the two most Jewish names I've ever heard.
Sidey: Yeah. Very
Lots of friends of your people, actual your people.
Dan: Well, it, all, his buddies actually were Val Kilmer is one of them. Um
Reegs: Buddy, that's the kerning. He's playing his rival artists to kerning.
Dan: although they all sit around and have a few beers together and, and he does actually cite him as one of them.
Reegs: Well they have a, they have a funny session where they're all out getting pissed. And he's like, they're asking him about his opinions on other artists and he says Gorski's or Picasso clone Klein's or whore Picasso's or has been declining.
He's all right. He's low. That's what he says. And then, but it's, it's important because the guy says him and what do you think of Jackson Pollock? And he falls completely silent and it's really uneasy. And it's a running theme throughout, especially the first half of the movie that he doesn't explain his art himself.
Everybody else interprets his art for him. Lee Krasner all the time is talking about his art for him. But you don't know where his art is coming from until much later in the movie.
Dan: Well, th that's when he talks about he's having a walking interview and he talks about his art, he says, you know, you don't look a bit of daisies or flowers and rip your hair.
Wondering what it all means. You just watch it and that's how he wanted his art. I appreciate it as well.
Reegs: Well, there's loads of it as well. I mean, it's, yeah, we're probably spinning on a bit, but in fact, we were going to quit because he meets Peggy Guggenheim. And she's a wealthy Jewish socialite who buys art and artists effectively, and he's on commission. He's got a paint, something for her and sell a certain amount of paintings.
Otherwise she'll own all his artwork.
Dan: Yeah. If some deal that seems the standard kind of shafting the artist deal that he's encouraged to, to sign by his now wife Lee. And he goes along with that and it's the case.
in in himself and those around him enough to say, look, you will sell this.
You will start to make money and,
Reegs: Yeah. But it doesn't go that way because the first exhibition that they have, it's got the critic, the prominent critic, Clement Greenberg, that was Jeffrey Turnbull.
Dan: That's the big guy.
Reegs: So you said it's a lot of Jewish people in here is another one, an art critic. He says in public that the work is muddy and pretentious and, and, and it's, you're aware of people critiquing Pollock's work at the end.
He doesn't like it.
Dan: No, he does. He doesn't take the criticism. Well, does he? He's at one point there's
big kind of party and it gets to the stage where He's
Asked about one of his paintings. And he said it was too blue, what to blue here. And he goes to get it from the garage and then he brings it back out and he goes, and he would say, well, should I soften it here?
I'll put a load of white paint on it or something. And he can't bring himself to do it at that final moment. And he really asked to come down off his high horse because he's so
Reegs: well, the critic says he likes that about him, so you can't destroy it.
Dan: But that's what the critic says. There's something in that, there's something in that. And he starts to maybe understand the man a little bit more and they become quite good
Reegs: They do. They do yeah. In, in their personal life. So his brothers fucked off, down to long. No Rubin wait, Howard. One of the guys who's helped set. He dies. So Rubin D. Paula goes on a massive drinking bender again, and it's all really awful.
And then Ruben goes down to long island and invites them out to live with them. And they're on the coldest looking fucking beach in the whole world having a picnic. And then they move out there and it's kind of, it's probably the happiest period
Dan: be there, but big jump down there about five years
Reegs: well, they negotiate a marriage
Sidey: Well, she says, if you don't marry me, it's over. Yeah. Okay.
Reegs: He says, okay. But then it has to be in a church and they both agree that no family should be there. and then he's, he's painting We've seen him paint a few times in the movie and it's great. I don't know whether ed Harris knows how to paint B. He certainly knows how to look like he knows how to
Dan: Yeah, I think he did the painting and they did have people coming after his to finish him off and things.
But I think he is a pain to any anyway. And he's been thinking about this film, you know, it's a labor of love for him last 10 or so years. I think he's, he certainly had a go, but yeah, the, the paintings themselves, obviously the. The, the real Jackson Pollock ones, I've seen one in London. And yeah, it's, they're, they're amazing on their, you know, when you get, you get very close to a painting like that
they're huge, they're huge things.
So they were the size of the man-cave bigger than that. The size of the
Reegs: really, that's what you first see thing that is really big.
Sidey: Well, because I've been to the Guggenheim and I don't know if you've been there, but it's a spiral thing you go round and you see all these Picasso's.
Reegs: they've got one there. They've
Sidey: the thing that strikes me is that, and it's happened. You could just go and fucking vandalize. Do you want me to, you're just, you're just there and you know, that's worth fucking millions and millions of mirrors and it's just
Sidey: No but that's what I was thinking
Dan: You're worried
Sidey: thinking that's worth fucking like tens of millions
Dan: did it for the Mona Lisa for years, but then,
Dan: that now is behind something.
Reegs: So time's a good painting.
Sidey: well, they, their
Reegs: they have a bit of a fallout
Sidey: she won't have kids. Yeah, yeah.
Dan: And it was a brilliant example. Isn't it? Wait, when they have that kind of argument and they say, fucking not having kids, why the fuck? And he splashes a glass and he breaks a radio or something and she got. W there, that's why I'm not having kids. I'm not bringing them into this, your hard enough work as it is.
And he is hard work. He's an alcoholic. He's really needy. He's.
Reegs: was, she she's like, I, you know, she's got her eyes open.
She knows what he's he's like, but she's like, it's enough me and you can't bring anybody else into this. And you can absolutely understand that about her. And she's her performance is brilliant and her character is brilliant all the way through this. He gets pissed about some reviews and stuff. Where are we now?
Oh, well that now, oh, we jumped to 1947 and the shows are being, he's getting shows and stuff they're being successful, but then they're being closed down a bit because of his drinking, but it's a good shot. He goes out to the barn where he paints were morning, it's cold and he's painting. And he notices how the.
Falls off his brush into like a, like a long loop on the
Dan: It's almost a mistake, isn't it? He doesn't even do it on the canvas. He does it on the, on the floor next canvas
Reegs: And then he suddenly doing that like strong lines and that spatter pattern there's there's energy and velocity in it, but it's not, you know, there's, it's, it's sort of planned randomness.
Dan: He knows what he's doing. He's got that kind
Sidey: frustrates without making contact with the canvas. You know, he's grading the shapes, but there's no, it's, what's the word I'm looking for. It's the different kind of texture, I suppose.
Reegs: Yeah. And he's using he's, he's using this enamel paint and he's dripping it onto the floor. There's the canvas is on the floor and he's like, he's flinging, he's using he's improvising and he's using the pain.
And anyways, it's great. You watch these paintings actually materialize. There's a great section where. The painting full fathom five is in the background of where, where he's working over one of the little montage scenes anyway, but Lee sees his new work. He's moved from being a surrealist into being an abstract expressionists, wherever this new thing
Dan: blown furry.
She says you you've broken through here. You've cracked it. And, and that's kind of what she's always expecting him to do that. If any of the artists in America at the time was going to find something. To, to paint about, to, to say on a canvas, then this was the guy and she'd put all our eggs into an energy into this guy.
And it, it paid off. She was right. She saw it and he was right. And he did it. It was, it was there. And he was able to, I mean, now we take it for granted, you know, that splash effect in everything, but he was the
Reegs: They're happy. Now there have been other painters. I haven't really been on this journey very much. So I wouldn't want to say with any. Certainty, but he
Dan: That's interesting. That's interesting. I thought he was kind of maybe just said something else then with this. I mean, with the size of the canvases or something,
Reegs: think it was, yeah, I think there was a lot, you know, I wouldn't want to be too definitive cause I don't really know a lot about my art
Dan: sways would know about this.
Reegs: What sway should have been on the pod, where everyone is kind of celebrating you know, he's making money, he's flirting with some girl
and Lee gets really pissed at him and they have a big patch on the pool.
Dan: Which was well out of order, wasn't it? I mean, he's, he's getting pissed with his mates playing cards or whatever his misses is in the kitchen behind him.
And he's like, you know, so he's turning it into one of these guys. That's not just drinking and being an asshole now. He's, he's cheating. He's out of control is he's losing him himself.
Reegs: Well, he's becoming mega famous as well. And it's, you know, life magazine, of course they want to do an article on him and they're, they're interviewing, they're asking and probing questions. They say to him, it's probably the biggest question that people would have. And it's just such a great line.
I really hope it's true. They say to him, how do you know when you finished a painting? And he says, well, how do you know when you're finished making.
such a good answer. So he's got the success. He craved his painting, sell people, want to hear his opinions and respect and he's giving it, you see, even on like an old timey version of a podcast at one point explaining his theory.
So he must be pretty cool.
Dan: They make a film of him
Reegs: And he explains his art and his process and the problems. He, he says specifically that the problems of the age, and he's talking about stuff like he's talking about like nuclear, Armageddon and stuff as well, which is strangely prescient or whatever. He said they need a new type of expression to reveal them.
And he's, he says, he's not using accidents. He says, he's in control, but he's, you know, he's responding to the criticisms that people have of what he does. Then Hans NamUs. Joe Willy's brother, a German movie maker comes to make a film.
Sidey: interrupts the spontaneity of his work. He's not into it.
The boozing starts to become more and more
Dan: Well, he hasn't drank in two years, is he? But after
Sidey: it's Thanksgiving, when he starts hitting the bottle again. Yeah. And he's real fucking ICER when he's drunk,
Reegs: It makes him feel like a phony, doesn't it make it in the movie because he's having to pretend to do what he's, what he does and it's yeah. It's messing with his head. And he's kind of going off the boil a little bit. Clem has declared some other artists I think is Clifford still? I can't, I can't remember who they said, but some other artist is the up and coming and they're saying you've had a good 10 years.
Dan: time, but he he's he's he comes through that door.
In that scene. Cause it skips just before this scene and he's got a beard and he's put on 30, 40 pounds or something.
Reegs: they stopped for six weeks or something to let him in. So he could do that.
Dan: And what's he done? I mean, can you imagine where they stopped for six weeks? The change in this guy? I mean, it's a, I thought they'd put like some kite, cause he had a fat suit on him, but he's just wearing a vest.
It's him. He he's he must have just hit the button.
Just full on
nothing Yeah. Yeah. He's
Reegs: calls Claire.
Sidey: Yeah. He starts getting real, real abusive. Yeah.
Reegs: He's horrible.
Dan: I mean, yeah. There's
Sidey: That was one barrage of insults that
Dan: into a corner
Sidey: screams out. I was like, wow, fucking hell. That was full on.
Reegs: and then she's arguing back and she's saying that she knows he's cheating and she's like,
You know, they're having this big argument and it seems over the cheating, but she's like we have this kind of argument over, you know, if I ask you to take out the rubbish so it's like fucking grim anyway, but he is cheating.
He's cheating with Jennifer Connolly. He looks pretty good it is horrible. Cause like he goes off and comes back and you know, they know what's going on. She doesn't bust her chops, even though Jennifer Connolly left some of her clothes in the car and her friends had the good grace not to say anything about it when they saw it.
It's like, wow,
Dan: yeah. Eventually the relationship folks up there and it gets together with this girl the, the
Reegs: well she goes off to Venice. Lee goes off to Venice. She wishes that Jackson would go with her, but he doesn't eat. He goes off with Ruth, which has Jennifer Connolly. Isn't it. And their friend Edith.
Dan: And they, they end up having a fateful car ride in the end.
Reegs: So, you know, they're drinking. Well he is absolutely hammered behind the wheel and he yeah.
Dan: it's just hammered, but also.
Going through another one of his kind of episodes, I think, where he's he's not thinking straight and ends up having a car crash and dying
Sidey: He dies. He just dies. And Ruth is, I think, seriously injured, but survived.
Reegs: And then Lee went on to manage the estate and then she produced, what we didn't talk about is that she was also a very talented artist and she basically, during, during Jackson's life, she put her art mostly on hold to make sure that Jackson was able to fulfill his potential. And then after he died, she produced some of the best work of her career in politics studio.
So what a fucking story man.
Dan: It was a couple of hours. And what, what, what did you think, you know, pass with flying colors less original than is subject? I've heard both, I've read a few reviews online that have really kind of been up and down on this. Yeah. It's not, it's
Sidey: I enjoyed it for everyone. The metrics are strong for it.
So it's well liked. And it did, like you said, it had a few Oscar nods. I believe that Marcia gay harden won the Oscar for her portrait
Reegs: she and she was up against, hang on. I've got it here because she was up against Judi Dench, Kate Hudson, Francis McDormand, and Julie Walton.
Sidey: almost famous.
Reegs: yes, it was a Francis McDormand.
Julie will. Yeah, not exactly lightweights. And she won it. He was nominated for best actor, but it went to Russell Crowe that year
Dan: was it.
Reegs: Yeah. He, ed Harris has got a role as rear Admiral lo and top gun Maverick.
Dan: Well I mean, if you're thinking of watching this with the kids, you want to know that there's a, there's one brief sex scene, but he lacks detail. This is the the kids, parents review.
Reegs: because he tries to get it on with Peggy, but he can't
Dan: yeah. There's some sexual references. There's a couple of scenes where Pollock gets angry and throw stuff around as far as your violence goes.
And a few. F words pallette cause his wife a fucking cunt whore and the word con is used two or three times.
Sidey: Yeah Cause I was really pressed for time this week to get this or watched. And I thought, oh, it's a film about some, a painter or whatever. I could probably watch this while my daughter's in the room, but I didn't.
And then when he started unleashing all this, because it's not just saying it, he's screaming it and really angrily, like really giving it to her. I was like, thank God. Because it's not appropriate for
Dan: here enough of it. You don't have to hear it on a TV as well. You
Reegs: it feels so we skipped past the part, whether we said whether it was any good or not.
Sidey: It's definitely good.
Dan: Oh, I really enjoyed this. Yeah. I've really enjoyed this. I've watched this last night, put it on around about 10 o'clock Sunday night, and it's just where you want to be for me then, you know, if that late night film, when nobody else was up, I could just sink into this.
Reegs: it's just a great
Dan: was a brilliant biopic of an artist I didn't know a lot about. And I think.
Reegs: You can see his passion for the source material and obviously for the man and for the art, especially the art, you can feel that and see it in this. If you don't know, the story is a great way.
I guess it's fairly authentic because it comes, it's written by people who wrote a biography of him. That's like the most official version that there is and what have you. So yeah,
Sidey: this is another one of you like championing someone. Who's a bit of an asshole. So you've had the, the dog torture is on, but something else the week after, I can't remember what was it now? You'd like a violent you know, BCIT I call it,
Reegs: he was tortured though
Dan: Yeah. He
Sidey: just a nice painting. So that's okay. It did make some money Israeli.
They made this for 6 million and it made 11 million at the box
Dan: Okay, nice. I'm pleased for ed because I think this is a, it's a, it's a foot. Yeah. Yeah. It actually me like a cheers. But no, it's, it's lovely when.
actor has a passion project and they can see it through and deliver it so
Sidey: working a long time to get this
Dan: then there's an Oscar as well for, for marsh. Yeah, Marsha. So I think that's,
Reegs: it's such an extraordinary story, you know, alcoholism and depression and art, and she is so extraordinary Lee Krasner in this and her.
Paula CO's has so much clearly,
Reegs: you know, it's a real portrait of love and support for somebody who had a lot of fucking problems, obviously.
So yeah, it's great. Really do go and watch this. If you haven't seen it.