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Fracture

Sometimes location determines which movie I see on Friday, but I'm very glad that it did today, or I'd have missed Fracture. I had no idea how gripping it would turn out to be - and how interesting. Ordinarily I give lawyer-movies a wide berth. Aside from Anatomy of a Murder, there's nothing duller than courtroom scenes, and although the law is presented more realistically now than it used to be, it still necessarily omits the COLOSSAL TEDIUM that the practice of law entails. Fracture avoids each and every pitfall of the genre. And yet it has a comfortable familiarity about it that both promises and delivers certain satisfactions. And, I have to say, Ryan Gosling's performance is every bit as impressive as Anthony Hopkins's.

Ignorant of all this wonderment, I chose the movie because it was showing on 86th Street. I wanted to go to the Met afterward, for lunch and another look at the new Greek and Roman Antiquities Galleries. For that reason alone, I almost went to see Lucky You, because it began at eleven. Fracture didn't start until an hour and a half later, and I actually took a taxi to the museum to be sure that I'd get there before the cafeteria stopped serving cheeseburgers. I actually considered such offerings as Disturbia and The Invisible. Every now and then, it's important to see something that's off your charts - in the wrong direction.

I looked at a lot of Greek pots, some of them rather lewd. Satyrs often sprout erections - you can tell that they're satyrs because of their pony tails and their squished, unheroic profiles - but there's a late pot in which a tumescent gent is actually approaching a couched female.

I also took another look at Gentile Bellini's portrait of Sultan Mehmet II, the conqueror of Istanbul. The portrait belongs to the National Gallery, London, so I'm trying to drink it in. The sultan's nose is so aquiline that you might miss the irregularities of his mouth, partly concealed as it is by his beard. His eyes manage to be both "humanistic" and sinister.

This season's Roof Garden installation, which opened the other day, is a show of large sculptures by Frank Stella. One wonders how they got these mammoth bits of welding up there. Then one looks out of the spring-green carpet of Central Park's treetops, soaking up the brilliant sunshine. Then one walks home.

Fracture.

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