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Starring: Cate Blanchett, Noémie Merlant, Nina Hoss, Sophie Kauer, Julian Glover, Allan Corduner, Mark Strong, Sylvia Flote
OUR RATING: ★★★½
Bio-drama written and directed by Todd Field. set in the international world of classical music, Tár (2022) centers on Lydia Tár (Cate Blanchett), widely considered one of the greatest living composer/conductors and first-ever female chief conductor of a major German orchestra.
Our Favorite Quotes:'If you want to dance the mask, you must service the composer. You got to sublimate yourself, your ego, and, yes, your identity. You must, in fact, stand in front of the public and God and obliterate yourself.' - Lydia Tár Click To Tweet
Adam Gopnik: If you’re here, then you already know who she is, and that is one of the most important musical figures of our time. Lydia Tár is many things.
Adam Gopnik: [referring to Lydia] She’s been quoted as saying, “These composers are having a conversation and it may not always be so polite.”
Adam Gopnik: Lydia, could we talk a little bit about translation? Because I think there’s still people who think of the conductor as a kind of human metronome.
Lydia Tár: Well, yeah, that’s partly true. But keeping time, it’s no small thing.
Adam Gopnik: But I suspect there’s a lot more to it than that.
Lydia Tár: Yeah. Well, I would hope so, yes.
Lydia Tár: Time is the thing. Time is the essential piece of interpretation. You cannot start without me. See, I start the clock. Now, my left hand, it shapes, but my right hand, the second hand, marks time and moves it forward. However, unlike a clock, sometimes my second hand stops, which means that time stops. Now, the illusion is that like you, I’m responding to the orchestra in real time, making the decision about the right moment to restart the thing, or reset it, or throw time out the window altogether. The reality is, that right from the very beginning I know precisely what time it is, and the exact moment that you and I will arrive at our destination together.
Lydia Tár: But, as I said before, we are dealing with time. And this piece was not born into aching tragedy. It was born into young love.
Adam Gopnik: And so you chose…
Lydia Tár: Love.
Adam Gopnik: Right. But precisely how long?
Lydia Tár: Well, seven minutes.
Whitney Reese: Do you ever find yourself overwhelmed by emotion when you’re up there at the podium?
Lydia Tár: Yes. Yes, it does happen. There’s an expectation reward cycle with some works and the spots in them that I find so incredible, that when I’m conducting, it’s not that I’m rushing exactly, but, I just can’t wait to get to that spot. And, yeah, it does it. It does it every time.
Whitney Reese: So it’s physical as well as emotional.
Lydia Tár: You know, it’s not until I conducted it that I became convinced we’re all capable of murder.
Eliot Kaplan: Money can’t always buy you everything.
Lydia Tár: You don’t really believe that.
'Time is the thing. Time is the essential piece of interpretation.' - Lydia Tár Click To Tweet
Lydia Tár: Trust me, you do not want to go to school on someone else’s red and blue pencil. Least of all, mine.
Eliot Kaplan: Oh, but I do.
Lydia Tár: There’s no glory for a robot, Eliot. Do your own thing.
Lydia Tár: I agree about the tension part. Now, you can intellectually contemplate, or masturbate, about the felicity of the so-called “atonal”, but the important question here is, what are you conducting? What is the effect? What is it actually doing to me? Good music can be as ornate as a cathedral, or bare as a potting shed, so long as it allows you to answer both those questions.
Lydia Tár: The intent of her composition is vague, to say the least. So, if her intent is vague, how do you, as a conductor, have a point of view about anything? Now, to be fair, I mean, there are times when you will simply have no choice. And you will be made to stand in front of an orchestra and pretend that there are these invisible structures.
Lydia Tár: But my prayer for you is that you will be spared the embarrassment of standing on the podium with a 4’33”, trying to sell a car without an engine. Because now, my friends, now is the time to conduct music that actually requires something of you. You know, music that everybody knows, but will hear differently when you interpret it for them.
'There's no glory for a robot. Do your own thing.' - Lydia Tár Click To Tweet
Lydia Tár: [referring to Bach] But I’m sorry, I’m unclear as to what his prodigious skills in the marital bed have to do with B minor. Sure. Alright, whatever. That’s your choice. I mean, after all, “a soul selects her own society”. But remember, the flip side of that selection closes the valves of one’s attention.
Lydia Tár: Now, of course, siloing what is acceptable, or not acceptable is a basic construct of many, if not most, symphony orchestras today, who see it as their imperial right to curate for the cretins.
Lydia Tár: Can classical music, written by a bunch of straight, Austro-German, churchgoing white guys exalt us, individually as well as collectively, and who, may I ask, gets to decide that?
Lydia Tár: There’s a humility in Bach. He’s not pretending he’s certain about anything. Because he knows that it’s always the question that involves the listener. It’s never the answer, right?
'Good music can be as ornate as a cathedral, or bare as a potting shed.' - Lydia Tár Click To Tweet
Lydia Tár: Don’t be so eager to be offended. The narcissism of small differences leads to the most boring conformity.
Lydia Tár: But you see, the problem with enrolling yourself as an ultrasonic epistemic dissident is that if Bach’s talent can be reduced to his gender, birth country, religion, sexuality, and so on, then so can yours.
Max: You’re a f***ing b**ch.
Lydia Tár: And you are a robot. I mean, unfortunately, the architect of your soul appears to be social media. You want to dance the mask, you must service the composer. You got to sublimate yourself, your ego, and, yes, your identity. You must, in fact, stand in front of the public and God and obliterate yourself.
Francesca Lentini: I received another weird email from Krista. How should I reply?
Lydia Tár: Don’t.
Francesca Lentini: Well, this one felt especially desperate.
Lydia Tár: [in German] Hope dies last.
Sharon Goodnow: [to Lydia] I’m worried about Petra. She’s starting to disappear into herself.
'It's always the question that involves the listener. It's never the answer.' - Lydia Tár Click To Tweet
Andris Davis: How is the writing going?
Lydia Tár: Ah, I never know how to answer that question. Makes it sound like a physical act. Like how’s the s**tting going?
Andris Davis: How’s the thinking going?
Lydia Tár: Yeah, not so well. I keep hearing something and getting excited only to catch myself in pastiche.
Andris Davis: Well, it’s all pastiche. We all have the same musical grammar.
Andris Davis: I’m proud to call you my pupil, even though there was really nothing I could teach you.
Lydia Tár: Now, that’s not true. I’d never have the position here were it not for you.
Andris Davis: Then you’d be in London, New York.
Lydia Tár: They’re not Berlin.
Andris Davis: Schopenhauer measured a man’s intelligence against his sensitivity to noise.
Lydia Tár: Didn’t he once also throw a woman down a flight of stairs who later sued him?
Andris Davis: Yes. Although, it’s unclear that this private and private and personal failing is at all relevant to his work.
'Don't be so eager to be offended. The narcissism of small differences leads to the most boring conformity.' - Lydia Tár Click To Tweet
Lydia Tár: I need someone to hold me.
Francesca Lentini: This isn’t the place, Francesca.
Francesca Lentini: [referring to the article about Krista committing suicide] I just got this from someone over at Accordion.
Lydia Tár: Oh, no. When did this happen?
Francesca Lentini: Day before yesterday. That email she sent you, it felt like she was already…
Lydia Tár: Delete it. And the rest. There’s no reason to get caught up in any intrigue.
'Hope dies last.' - Lydia Tár Click To Tweet
Lydia Tár: [to Francesca, referring to Krista committing suicide] There’s nothing we could have done to stop her. She wasn’t one of us.
Lydia Tár: [referring to Krista] There was just something not quite right about her.
Francesca Lentini: She had so much promise.
Lydia Tár: She did.
Francesca Lentini: Yes.
Lydia Tár: Almost as much as you. Now, we have to forget about her. Do you understand?
'There's no limit to the different kinds of feelings music can make you have. And some of those feelings are so special, and so deep, that they can't even be described in words.' - Leonard Bernstein (Tár) Click To Tweet
Sebastian Brix: [after Lydia tells him he is to be replaced] But this is my home.
Lydia Tár: Our only home is the podium. We all live out of a suitcase.
Sebastian Brix: You’re not asking. You’re telling. I knew as soon as she showed up that my days here were numbered. Andris told me not to worry, but I knew.
Lydia Tár: I’m sure I don’t know what you’re talking about.
Sebastian Brix: Oh, please. Just because nobody dares breathe it. We know the things you do. The little favors you grant.
'Music is movement, always going somewhere, shifting, and changing, and flowing from one note to another. And that movement can tell us more about the way we feel than a million words can.' - Leonard Bernstein (Tár) Click To Tweet
Sebastian Brix: Please, Maestro. Please forgive me.
Lydia Tár: For what? Your obsequiousness? Your hypocrisy? Your misogamy?
Sebastian Brix: I’m not a misogynist!
Lydia Tár: Misogamy. It’s a hatred of marriage.
Lydia Tár: Francesca, you did as I asked and deleted any and all correspondence with Krista, correct?
Francesca Lentini: I’m not sure. I’m not sure. I’ll double-check.