Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
The Time Being: A Portrait of the Artist Struggling
is quite a coup for the de Young Museum to lend its walls to a film production,
but it was not to display the work of our POV struggling artist. Instead, the put-upon Daniel is merely
running another strange errand there for his potential benefactor in Nenad
Cicin-Sain’s The Time Being (trailer here), which opens
tomorrow in New York.
Daniel, the bad news is he only sold one piece during his last show. The good news is it was bought by wealthy
collector Warner Dax, who could become the source of many lucrative
commissions. At least, that is how his
gallerist spins it. Unfortunately,
meeting Dax proves to be a deflating experience.
of his patronage, Dax only offers a series of odd jobs requiring minimal
artistic talent, such as video-taping sunsets.
Daniel proceeds to upend his life catering to the strange collector, severely
fraying his relationship with his wife Olivia.
Yet, he perseveres in the hope it will lead to something on the
Time Being is the sort of film that
might have been better realized as a short rather than a feature. Cicin-Sain
clearly has a good feel for the rarified gallery world and he stages some nifty
sequences of his artists at work on large scale canvases. In contrast, the scenes of domestic strife
quickly grow tiresome. Time and again,
Daniel seems to reassure his wife: “I promise things will get better—um, it was
Olivia, right?” The film’s big pivot
also feels like it comes prematurely, giving most of the third act an extended
the most distinctive aspect of Time Being
is the manner in which Cicin-Sain prominently incorporates the work of contemporary
artists into the film. Eric Zener
provides Daniel’s work and the exhibit he reluctantly visits at the de Young,
while Stephen Wright provides the dramatic paintings in Dax’s mansion, whose
significance will be revealed down the stretch.
Langella has the right imposing presence for Dax and he duly delivers in his
big climatic scene (of a spoilery nature).
Arguably, Wes Bentley keeps up with him relatively well as Daniel,
considering the flatness of his character.
Essentially a two-hander, Sarah Paulson makes the most of her small but consequential
There are intriguing moments in The Time Being, but the actual on-screen
drama is pretty middling stuff. Aspiring
artists and collectors will probably find a visit to the museum or gallery of
their choice appreciably more rewarding.
For committed Langella admirers, it opens tomorrow (7/26) in New York at
the Quad Cinema.
Labels: de Young Museum, Frank Langella