'Pollock' drips with superb acting, creativity

Sometimes an actor gets a part he was born to play, and sometimes he goes out of his way to make this happen. The latest example is Ed Harris as Jackson Pollock, who revolutionized modern painting in the 1940s. "Pollock" has been a labor of love for Harris over the past 10 years, during which he prepared the picture with thought, research, and yes, painting lessons.

Not that Harris does the only bravura acting. He dominates the movie with his sensitive portrayal of an artist who dared to cultivate an unprecedented style based on a love of abstraction and a skill for dripping and pouring paint with finely tuned control. But others expertly support him, including Jeffrey Tambor as critic Clement Greenberg and Marcia Gay Harden as Pollock's gifted wife, painter Lee Krasner.

Harris's directing sinks into cliches at times, as when Pollock's breakthrough into "drip painting" is announced through trite images of the artist's piercing eyes and the huge, blank canvas he's about to fill. But the movie is enriched by its respect for an innovator whose influence still permeates contemporary art.

Rated R; contains sexual material, foul language, and much drinking.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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