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Archive for March 10th, 2009

 junkw

by Sam Juliano

The argument continues to rage after three years of Metropolitan Opera simulcasts of their Saturday afternoon matinee performances to multiplex movie houses around the world.  Does one sustain a deeper operatic experience by attending the productions live in Manhattan, or is the ‘multiplex simulcast’ route the most enriching way to absorb the greatest of all art forms?  There is no simple answer.  As one who held partial season tickets to the Met for eight years, and still attends in person several times a year, there admittedly can be no replacement for being part of the intimacy that informs live performances in hushed and disciplined opera houses.  In this sense, opera seen and heard on its home turf is not compromised by the intrusion of cameras and the subjective artistic decisions that dictate what one is to see, even if the hearing is unaltered or even enriched.  For purists, there is no replacement to being in the opera house, even if one is doomed to the family circle in the upper rafters, or even forced to a standing room cubicle, as I have been on many occasions.  Except in the rare instance where distance or angle might be so adversely extreme as to compromise vision, there can be no valid argument against lived performance as opposed to transcription to another medium.  Yet, adherents of this hugely-successful public-relations venture to “bring the Met to the world” rightly claim some advantages to seeing the operas simulcast on movie screens.  For one, those who are eternally doomed to seeing the operas at the Met from long distances because of spiraling ticket prices, can now enjoy glorious close-ups of their favorite stars, a close look at the scenery, and wonderful interviews during intermissions conducted by such high-profile luminaries like Renee Fleming and Placido Domingo.  And with subtitles emblazoned legibly on the bottom of the screen, much like a foreign-language film, one doesn’t have to keep shifting their eyes from the stage to the back of the seat in front of them to negotiate the translation.  And the simulcast ticket price is $20, far less than any ticket at the Met save for standing room.      (more…)

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 bob-le-flambeur-4-isabelle-corey-copy

by Allan Fish

(France 1955 103m) DVD1/2

Aka. Bob the Gambler

Je t’aime le Pigalle.

p  Jean-Pierre Melville  d  Jean-Pierre Melville  w  Jean-Pierre Melville, Auguste le Breton  ph  Henri Decaë  ed  Monique Bonnot  m  Eddie Barclay, Jo Boyer  art  Claude Bouxin, Jean-Pierre Melville

Roger Duchesne (Bob Montagne), Isabelle Corey (Anne), Daniel Cauchy (Paolo), Andre Garret (Roger), Guy Decomble (Inspector Ledru), Gerard Buhr (Marc), Claude Cerval (Jean), Simone Paris (Yvonne), Colette Fleury (Suzanne), Howard Vernon (McKimmie),

If someone were to ask you what the coolest film ever made was, or at least the coolest character, it would be open to contention.  Indeed, Hotdog magazine ran such a piece in late 2003 and of course the winner was a recent character (Fight Club‘s Tyler Durden, if my memory serves me).  Yet for me, you can take all your James Bonds, your Tyler Durdens, your Jack Sparrows, hell even any other great French characters, such as Michel Poiccard in À Bout de Souffle; the one and only coolest character of all time is Bob, the compulsive gambler in Jean-Pierre Melville’s sublime heist movie.  Nothing is said in this movie that cannot be intoned by a look or a gesture.  This isn’t just cool, it’s cryogenic.  Douglas Fairbanks Jnr once said in Angels Over Broadway, “this town’s a giant dice game…”  Well, Bob certainly sees it that way.  (more…)

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