In the cacophonous discourse about which movies will survive the fall film festival circuit and emerge as Oscar contenders, one film is dominating the conversation: Tár, the latest movie from Portland-raised filmmaker Todd Field (In the Bedroom).
Not only has Tár received rapturous reviews (it currently holds a 100-percent score on Rotten Tomatoes), but Blanchett recently won the Best Actress award at the Venice Film Festival, the unofficial beginning of the Oscar race (Field was nominated for the festival’s prestigious Golden Lion, but lost to All the Beauty and the Bloodshed, Laura Poitras’ documentary about photographer and activist Nan Goldin).
The plot of Tár, which will be released on Oct. 7, has clearly touched a nerve. Blanchett’s character, Lydia Tár, is a composer-conductor who becomes the first-ever female chief conductor for a German orchestra. She also has controversial interactions with a young violinist (many reviews have noted that the film touches on the fraught concept of “cancel culture”).
Growing up in Portland, Field worked as a bat boy for the Portland Mavericks, the independent baseball team that actor Bing Russell founded in the 1970s (the team’s story was told in the documentary The Battered Bastards of Baseball).
Eventually, Field emerged as an acclaimed filmmaker, earning adoration for his direction of In the Bedroom and Little Children, his disturbing adaptation of Tom Perrotta’s novel starring Kate Winslet and Patrick Wilson. However, after the film was released in 2006, Field more or less vanished, spending many years working on projects that never came to fruition (including a television series based on Jonathan Franzen’s novel Purity).