Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Summer in February: Jealous Paint
Alfred Munnings work goes for millions of dollars at auction, but if you do not
collect English sporting art, he might not be on your radar. After his election
as president of the Royal Academy of Art, he notoriously railed against
modernists like Picasso. However, before
he embodied the establishment, A.J. Munnings was quite the carouser. His scandalous days in a Cornwall artists’
colony inspired Christopher Menaul’s Summer
in February (trailer
opens this Friday in New York.
Evans is exactly the sort of gentleman Florence Carter-Wood should marry. The upper-upper-middle-class-bordering-on-blue-blooded
Evans is an easy going military officer, who manages the Cornwall estate that
hosts the colony, when he is not away on active duty. In contrast, Munnings is the classic bad boy
artist, who gets away with a lot, because he is widely considered the leading
light of his artistic generation.
men are interested in Carter-Wood, but Munnings is far more proactive. Carter-Wood
is also rather attracted to the shy Evans, but as an aspiring art student, the
idea of Munnings holds a powerful sway over her. She will make a choice and it will be the
wrong one. At least, the coastal Cornwall
vistas make quite a picturesque backdrop for the brooding that results.
in January rather than its eponymous month, February’s
distributor is probably hoping to appeal to Downton Abbey viewers missing Cousin Matthew Crowley during season
four. Indeed, executive producer Dan
Stevens largely falls back on pleasant but familiar territory. Still, he does
have a likable earnestness as true blue Gilbert Evans. In fact, he represents a happy medium between
Dominic Cooper’s blustery Burtonesque Munnings and Emily Browning’s icy pale
Carter-Wood. As is often the case, the
supporting cast provides some nice color and seasoning, particularly Hattie
Morahan and Shaun Dingwall as Laura and Harold Knight, Munnings’ slightly less
famous married contemporaries.
As polite costume dramas go, February is perfectly presentable. Frankly, cinematographer Andrew Dunn ought to
earn a commission from Cornwall’s tourism bureau. Menaul also smoothly incorporates Munnings’
work into the narrative, while Anglophiles will enjoy recognizing the many top
shelf British character actors. It would be an above average installment of PBS’s
Masterpiece, but is more of a classy
trifle by theatrical standards.
Moderately recommended for Downton
fans, Summer in February opens
this Friday (1/17) in New York at the Quad Cinema.
Labels: British Cinema, Sir Alfred Munnings