Matt Gerson on "Shine"
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Matt Gerson's "Angle on Movies"


Notable: This review, consisting of a mere seven sentences, is composed of 763 words! Check that first sentence: 277 words! A new Matt RECORD! The w.p.s. (words per sentence) average for the first four sentences is a whopping 168--another new Matt RECORD! The shorter ending sentences (short by Matt's standards, this is) bring the overall w.p.s. down to 109. But, yep, that's another new Matt RECORD!
Also: I'm noticing that Matt seems unable to get through a review without using the phrase "all [her/their/his/its] own."

<< Announcer: Now our four day a week feature on AM 1310, here's Matt Gerson with his "Angle on Movies" now showing at your local theater. >>
I'm Matt Gerson with my five magic Angle recommendation out of five for the emotionally anguished and symphony of triumphs of Shine, where a naive pure musical spirit is driven to soul-splitting despair and hunchbacked bedraggled survival by the horrors of obsessive and hateful-as-loving strangling fiend of a father and a quest for the perfect Rachmaninoff meets Rainman, and a soul forsworn to music triumphs over shame and degradation institutionalizing him, and living with strangers, having lost his memory and all but his unquenchable will and genius to create the masters on a grand scale and with frantic energy and soul affirming and grabbing frenzy that portray David, the true prodigy, who never had the chance to capture the world's renown, suffering instead rare peaks and more troughs of a father's fanatical abuse and physical stifling mental horrors and being shut out of a concertizing world, his natural course and path by the tragedy of so many years of brutalizing by a father who couldn't stand his success, even as he beat its double-edged sword into him with a vengeance of fists and screaming, and finally, after young David, heroically and with a man's heart and a boy's resolve, goes to England on a scholarship to study with John Gielgud's pedantic Cecil Parks, his father Peter (Armin Mueller-Stahl) shuts him out of his life and home and treats David like an outcast, a mutt to be denied even the chance to see his own family, who know the true story of why he ended up in institutions and playing in taverns for surly owners until fate and Lynne Redgrave's Gillian lends a hand in the eleventh hour.

Shine is a truly strange name for the furnace of abuse and neglect and the magnificent transcending moments of aching triumph, as when David--magnificently played by Noah Taylor as a young man--through pools of sweat and eerie playing out of his life's blood on the piano, pays for the gold medal at the Albert Hall recital of Rachmaninoff's Third, goes beyond perfection to achieve piano concerto immortality and then his collapse afterwards as the exhaustion of John Gielgud's on the edge aficionado of always doing more and working more Cecil, has dragged and torn every ounce of energy from young David, and all that is left is his hands and the keys and the finish of the "Third Rock" is the end of David's rope as a creative force as well.

Shine could well be retitled Creating Triumph and Torment, for example, or MAngled Talent of a Musician's Soul, to somehow get across the soul-tormenting tale and highly scintillating sounds from Chopin to the always haunting Rachmaninoff that dance and delight our ears and inner senses and make Shine five Angles of magic on the keys, a triumph and tragedy and roller coaster of resolution and suffering, as the boy abused and the young man who shocks and dazzles the English classical halls sinks into an abyss of floundering five-and-diners and institutional neglect, only to somehow find his way, with the love of Lynne Redgrave's astrologer and loving spirit Gillian, to the true source of his pure talent and genius, all the while reduced by the starving lack of affection from family and parents to a mumbling mass of incoherent phrases about being squashed like a bug and succeeding over all despite what has been put into his head by a sullen, mean failure of a father who couldn't abide those with genius into another dimension in his own house.

The five Angles and best actor nods should go jointly to all three Davids, but Jeffrey Rush's David, the bizarre, oddball, Mozart as an adult, due to his longer screen time, should get the nod, but Noah Taylor as David as a young man and Alex [unintelligible--Rafaelowitz?] as David as a child, as well as the Scott Hicks bravura tale overall of direction and the always gorgeous cinematography by Jeffrey Simpson for this Australian production are also standouts.

Shine is the man and boy surviving the assault and anguish of perverted visions of success as abuse and living finally to call his creative genius and magnificent gifts all his own.

From terror to ostracism to shutting out to lost mind-frying loneliness and finally salvation, Shine has it all, with enough magic in the musical classics to delight anyone with a heart for loveliness created and guts found over adversity triumphant.

I'm Matt Gerson with five magic Angles out of five for a sure ten best for 1996.

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