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Terence Davies’ and Cynthia Nixon’s Emily Dickinson biopic burns with ‘A Quiet Passion’

What joy in this film! No, it’s not “joyful”; in fact, it’s glum and depressing and painful to watch. It’s from Terence Davies, Britain’s cinemaster of ex-Catholic, gay, working-class, spiritualized pain, director of such brutally personal masterworks as “Distant Voices, Still Lives” (1989) and “The Long Day Closes” (1992). It’s about a poet, Emily Dickinson, whom Garrison…

Master director Terence Davies talks Emily Dickinson, Brando, and growing up on movies

“I’m very good at misery and death,” says Britain’s greatest working director in his soothing, musical rasp. “Just a bit short of the ol’ joie de vivre!” Yet one look at “A Quiet Passion” (the latest masterwork from Terence Davies, his biopic on Emily Dickinson) and you must doubt that statement, however jesting and joshing. Davies’ early career (his bleakest work…

On poetic truth

The more poetry I read, though, the less I think about objective truth. It is certainly important to have it, but what makes me feel exhilarated and full-stomached and out of breath when I read poems I love are the lines that are approximate, that capture a nameless feeling without necessarily meaning something certain.