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Part 1: The White Crow

Overall, the time and money spent on this film was well worth it. If you love the ballet, it should not be missed. Since the primary subject, Rudolph Nureyev, was not a pleasant person, the emphasis on controlling an artist’s artistic freedom became an important, if not imperative, subplot. No apologies were made for the less attractive aspects Nureyev’s personality. He was what he was and no attempts were made to mask that aspect of the man.

Not many actors can be as gifted a director as they are as an actor. Fiennes is marvelous as Nureyev’s dance instructor but not quite there when in come to direction. Or maybe he needed a better editor. There were moments when the story came to a halt in the attempt to mine a juicy dramatic scene, especially when Nureyev (Oleg Ivenko) slogs through the decision to defect. The agonizing internalization goes on too long. Care with this kind of scene needs to be carefully considered and rendered. When emotions don’t translate across the screen, an actor can look constipated instead of in dire emotional turmoil.

On the other hand, the dancing is absolutely brilliant, exhilarating. Ivenko is splendid, a joy to watch. Nureyev had an aggressive presence on stage but Ivenko has the grace and beauty. I did appreciate the attempt to ease viewer transition from original fifties footage to present day cinematography.  That was cleverly done. The production departments caught the era and settings effortlessly, from the brutal poverty in Russia to Parisian elegance and self-satisfied sophistication. Nureyev’s absolute arrogance combined with his thirst for art in all its forms must have confused Parisians, perhaps as much as his hunger for the arts fascinated and made for appreciation. This is a must-see film for anyone interested in dance.

Finally got to watch: My Dinner with Harvé

Before Tyrion, there were so many other roles Dinklage performed that I am always in search for his works. It was well publicized that he was interested in Villechaize, who led an extraordinary and wretched life. As a person, Villechaize was ruthlessly objectified, misunderstood, and ridiculed. In doing so, the public never got to know an intelligent, well-educated and talented man.

Since I never watched Fantasy Island, I had no interest in Tattoo and knew little about him. Thanks to this HBO film, I learned that Villechaize was also a gifted painter. That was an upside, and the rest of his life, largely horrific. He did have a marvelous father, but no matter how he searched, he never found emotional relief for his mother’s disdain and disappointment, but he never let that or anything else stop him. Per Villechaize,“Just because a man is small he doesn’t have to act it.” He was proof that big brains can come in small packages.

This film is worth seeing for its touching performances and its backstage eye-opener about Fantasy Island. Dinklage and Jamie Dornan, as Sacha Gervasi, director and writer of the biopic, are excellent in their individual roles. It’s not a happy film, especially due to Harvé’s eventual end, probably due to his ironical conclusion that people are the same “addicted to the fantasy that something or someone would take away the pain of life.”  He resorted to pain relief with a gun.

Next up: John Wick 3 (no spoilers)

M.L Rigdon (aka Julia Donner)

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