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Peek at the Patricia: Films deliver award-worthy performances

"Blanchett is absolutely enthralling as Lydia Tár...Spielberg gets personal with a magical opus" ~ Gary Shilling, qathet Film Society

The film Tár stars Cate Blanchett in a staggering performance of complicated genius.

As the maestro heading into crisis in director Todd Field’s outrageous tale, Blanchett’s performance pierces like a conductor’s baton through the heart. This isn’t the Blanchett of Don’t Look Up. It’s a new beast entirely, a once-in-a-career performance from a generational talent.

It’s that rarest of films, being both a prestige awards contender that’s also genuine art cinema. The narrative unspools in an insinuating, sometimes enigmatic way, but the formal virtuosity on display here is in a quieter register than in many other such films. That’s true for the note-perfect acting as well.

Nothing symbolizes the mystery of high art quite so dramatically as a concert conductor. They stand on a podium, hair askew, waving arms about, but playing no instrument, apparently producing nothing. But beneath them, the massed orchestra watches intently, heaving back and forth like a formally dressed wave in response to each subtle gesture of their master, a conduit to the intent of departed composers.

It’s a fascinating drama, packed with attitude and ideas, and Blanchett is absolutely enthralling as Lydia Tár, an exhausting woman to be with and watch.

In The Fabelmans, director Steven Spielberg, master of the spectacular, gets personal with a magical opus depicting a childhood like his.

He has always been telling his life story, but never quite this personal. From the families in Close Encounters of the Third Kind to E.T. the Extra Terrestrial, it’s clear the director’s upbringing has heavily informed his work.

The story centres on the conflict between artistic drive and personal responsibility, as well as the mysteries of talent and happiness. Spielberg does not hold back with what happened to his family, and it becomes this gorgeous, yet very poignant examination of how coping through art became a saviour for him.

Part birth of an artist, part family drama, it’s a film too big and messy to provide easy answers to life’s questions. It echoes the exciting feeling of discovering the possibilities of cinema, using it as part of a narrative that mirrors what made Spielberg one of the greatest filmmakers in history.

The film has received critical acclaim, with 22 award wins and 207 nominations, including Golden Globe wins for Best Motion Picture – Drama; and Best Director – Motion Picture.

20-year-old Gabriel LaBelle won the Critics Choice Award for Best Young Performer for his portrayal of Sammy.

Tár, rated PG, plays at the Patricia Theatre at 7 pm on Wednesday, January 25, and 1:30 and 7 pm on Thursday, January 26. Running time is two hours and 37 minutes.

The Fablemans, rated PG, plays at the Patricia Theatre from January 27 to February 2, at 7 pm. A matinee screening will take place on February 2, at 1:30 pm.

Running time is two hours and 29 minutes.

Gary Shilling is executive director of qathet Film Society.

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