Monday, March 26, 2012

The Netflix Files: March 19 - 25

Caravaggio (1986) dir. Derek Jarman:
Among one of art house director's more straightforward efforts, Caravaggio is still a Jarman film down to its core. From the dark, stagey (yet in a good way) set design filled with anachronisms, to the touches of homoeroticism, the late auteur's depiction of the famed painter's life is a lush film that beautifully does for Caravaggio what Julie Taymor would do nearly 20 years later for Frida Kahlo with Frida. Told in a series of flashbacks, the film's main focus is on the love triangle that develops between Caravaggio (Nigel Terry) and a young couple (Sean Bean and Tilda Swinton). The way Jarman lyrically moves between episodes is fascinating to watch. And though the film does touch on Caravaggio's youth, it avoids trying to depict his entire life. By focusing on the non-traditional love triangle (it begins between Caravaggio and Bean's Ranuccio), Jarman is able to contrast the painter's struggles in work (which are somewhat downplayed) with the more volatile struggles in his personal life. It's a rich, sumptuous vision, with, filled with lovely costumes (often against minimalist sets that still speak volumes) and gorgeous photography that does a low-key, yet still effective job of using an episode in a person's life to somehow capture them as a whole.

Grade: B/B+

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