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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

"Lust for Life" (1956)

By sheer looks alone Kirk Douglas was born to play the doomed artist Vincent Van Gogh. When you see him with his hair dyed red to match the subject's in this respectful biopic, there's an uncanny resemblance to all those famous self-portraits this tortured soul created. But the performance goes beyond looks. Douglas goes for broke in conveying the zealous passion Van Gogh had for his art, along with his lifelong struggle to overcome insurmountable inner demons. Is the suffering really explained? No. But you do get an informative overview of Van Gogh's life, how he discovered his technique, and how is was inspired by so much of the natural world around him (and don't forget that ear business). Best of all, of course, are all those glorious paintings. Director Vincent Minelli explodes the widescreen with all the luscious colors in Van Gogh's palette. Much of the film was shot in the same locations that Van Gogh recreated. It's fun to see the art vs. the original place. Anthony Quinn won an Oscar as the spirited rake Paul Gauguin who befriends Van Gogh and goads him to go with his gut and paint what he feels. An added bonus is Miklos Rozsa's emotional score.

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