Tár Film Review: The riveting Cate Blanchett reaches a career high as a furious and titled orchestra conductor

Tar (15A, 158min)

Nothing symbolizes the mystery of high art so dramatically as a concert conductor.

They stand on a pedestal with crooked hair, wave their arms around, but don’t play any instruments and don’t seem to produce anything.

But below them, the massed orchestra watches intently, undulating like a formally clad wave in response to their master’s every subtle gesture, a bubbling conduit to the intentions of dead composers.

Quite a row then and you’ve been dominated by men since the beginning of time. But in tarIn Todd Field’s intense, gripping drama, a woman has stormed the symphony’s citadel.

Lydia Tár (Cate Blanchett) is a force of nature, a conductor with rock star charisma who has risen through the American classical music scene like a dose of salt.

A protégé of Leonard Bernstein, praised for her interpretations of Bach and Mahler, Lydia has landed the top job in classical music and is now Principal Conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic.

She left for the German city with patrician ease and set up a house with Sharon (Nina Hoss), a cellist, and her romantic partner: the couple has an adopted child.

In a clever interior style that may have been cheesy but rings kind of true, Lydia submits to a public interview with the New Yorker Writer Adam Gopnik.

Introducing her, Gopnik gives a synopsis of Lydia’s almost hilariously accomplished resume — she went to Harvard, won an Oscar, a Tony, a Grammy and an Emmy, and recorded all of Mahler’s symphonies save one, the Fifth, the record them soon will take over.

These are the sort of achievements that once paved the way to unassailable power, but in this age of cultural fatwas, everyone is a target, as Lydia will soon find out.

It seems Tár is something of a sexual predator, using his power to seduce younger musicians.

A former protégé is causing trouble on social media and her current assistant Francesca (Noémie Merlant) is also unhappy, but Lydia doesn’t care: she only cares about her beloved Berlin Philharmonic and the upcoming recording of Mahler’s Fifth for Deutsche Grammophon.

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But as she frantically rehearses them, more unflattering stories surface on the internet, and Lydia’s increasingly precarious position is not helped by her passion for new Russian cellist Olga Metkina (Sophie Kauer).

Through it all, Lydia remains angry, entitled, difficult to dismiss, impossible to like. Did she deserve all this? Lydia misbehaved and eventually

Sharon points out that every relationship in her life has been transactional, except for her daughter’s. In a scene that will either have you applauding or horrified, Lydia swings to her child’s school, finds a girl bullying her, and whispers, “I’ll get you.”

tar is full of such studied ambivalence. Is it easier to sympathize with Lydia because she’s a gay woman and not a middle-aged man?

It’s also about how much it took to rise to the top of a bastion of male entitlement, and later we get a sense of how Lydia laboriously reinvented herself.

None of this, of course, excuses their flagrant abuse of power, nor their snarling superiority. In the film’s most talked-about scene, she is teaching a class at Juilliard when a student who identifies as BIPOC transgender declares that he will not engage with JS Bach because he was a straight white male who turned 20 fathered children and therefore must have been a misogynist.

Lydia rips a streak out of him, implying he’s a moron, which he actually is, but he’ll get his own back.

tar walks a fine line between these annoying and pertinent arguments, is beautifully photographed and can be forgiven for being slightly overdone in its fruity climax.

It’s an intriguing drama, full of attitude and ideas, and Blanchett is absolutely captivating as Lydia Tár, a demanding woman to be with and to watch.

Rating: Five stars

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Meghan is a robot doll who wants to protect Cady

M3GHAN

(15A, 102min)

Trailers for this light and breezy sci-fi horror make it look gritty and trashy: in fact, it’s anything but.

Parenting, grief and our dependence on technology are among the topics covered M3GANan entertaining Blumhouse production that begins with tragedy.

After both her parents are killed in a car accident, 10-year-old Cady (Violet McGraw) moves in with her Aunt Gemma (Allison Williams), a robotics expert at a high-tech toy company.

An obsessive workaholic, Gemma is unequipped to deal with the child’s grief and instead introduces Cady to Megan (played by Amie Donald, voiced by Jenna Davis), an elaborate robot puppet.

Once Megan bonds with the kid, she becomes his trusty protector, but sadly, this boils down to beating the neighbor’s dog and taking down a playground bully.

All of this is cleverly done: Megan walks a fine line in scathing teenage sarcasm, and the cynicism of Gemma’s bosses is breathtaking. M3GAN is a clever dystopian chiller and raises an interesting question – is all this smart technology making us dumber?

Rating: four stars

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Mary Woodvine plays a conservationist

Eny’s men

(15A, 91min)

Cornish trickster Mark Jenkin is at it again Eny’s mena sparse and haunting 16mm folk horror that reflects on the horrors of time.

In the spring of 1973, a wildlife volunteer and conservationist (Mary Woodvine) came to a remote and rocky island in Cornwall to observe the progress of a rare wildflower.

Each morning she trudges across a swampy heath to contemplate the delicate-looking plant, then returns to the tiny cottage where she lives to jot down the date and the words “no change.”

Then a mysterious fungus appears on one of the flowers, and also on a deep scar on the woman’s stomach, which is the result of an injury in childhood.

But as she goes about her daily vigil, she sees – or thinks she sees – traces of the island’s past – 19th-century tin miners.

Is she going insane and is the affair she’s having with a bald fisherman real? We never find out, because Jenkins is more interested in exploring the faded echoes of a place’s past. Marcel Proust would have liked it.

Rating: four stars

https://www.independent.ie/entertainment/movies/movie-reviews/tar-movie-review-enthralling-cate-blanchett-hits-a-career-high-note-as-a-furious-and-entitled-orchestra-conductor-42281909.html Tár Film Review: The riveting Cate Blanchett reaches a career high as a furious and titled orchestra conductor

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