Archive for March 15th, 2010

Complex Metropolitan Opera set for Dimitri Shostakovich’s “The Nose” seen on March 11th

by Sam Juliano

As promised, Jason Giampietro has furnished the you tube clip of the Oscar party for those interested.  The link was also offered in Dee Dee’s Oscar interview wrap:

    The ‘almost silents’ countdown is winding to its absolute conclusion with the top ten set to begin in a few days.  Voters are welcome to submit ballots, and in response to David Schleicher’s fair query, anyone can settle on 10 or 15 choices, and points will be allocated accordingly.  Ongoing countdowns at Dave Hicks’s and Jeffrey Goodman’s sites are also moving ahead in full gear.  The Oscar posts have come to an end, and thanks are in order to Dee Dee for a job well-done!
     I attended two ‘events’ this week in Manhattan.  On Thursday night I witnessed one of the Metropolitan Opera season’s greatest and most complex stagings in Dimitri Shostakovich’s comedic opera The Nose, an almost phantasmagoric blending of silouettes, shapes, and stage trappings that stretched the boundaries for creativity and made the atonal, discordant score a stunning aural experience.  I had hoped to have an essay up tonight, but the posting of the links below left me with little time.  Hence I am aiming for Thursday, as Tuesday and Wednesday will have gleefully-anticipated essays by Joel Bocko and Jim Clark showcased.
     On Friday night it was an utterly charming staging of The Bard’s comedy Measure For Measure, with some delightful performances and an effective use of minimalist staging.  Again I am aiming for Friday on a full review.
    On the film scene I saw two films in theatres:
   Un Prophete (Audiard)  ***** (Saturday afternoon; Montclair)
   Mother  (Joon-Ho)  **    (Saturday night; IFC Film Center)
     Jacques Audiard’s electrifying prison drama is everything that I could possibly have expected and much more.  It’s a riveting denunciation of prison squalor and corruption, and it showcases a compelling metamorphosis of an French Arab through the ranks.  The non-professional lead is superlative as is a well-known actor who plays the mob leader Luciani.  Alexander Desplat’s score and Audiard’s brilliant attention to detail and psychological nuances further the excellence in a film that for me was easily better than The White Ribbon.
     And then there’s the critically-praised Korean film Mother, which was a convoluted, wildly inconsistent abstract film that was emotionally distancing and disjointed, and lacked any sense of cohesion or flow, or even physical beauty.  It’s metaphorical underpinnings seemed heavy-handed, and the entire affair was a major train wreck of a movie.

There are some excellent reviews and miscelaneous posts around the blogosphere:

Dave Hicks has reached the top 40 in his months-long running Film Noir countdown with his Friday review of Andre de Toth’s Crime Wave: http://goodfellamovies.blogspot.com/2010/03/40crimewaveandredetoth1954.html

At FilmsNoir.net Tony d’Ambra has posted a ‘double review’ of Young Man With A Horn and A Lady Without Passport that rates with the best stuff he’s ever written in three years of blogging, and that’s saying something. http://filmsnoir.net/film_noir/double-feature-young-man-with-a-horn-and-a-lady-without-passport.html (more…)

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by Allan Fish

(France 1923 (made 1920-21) 270m) DVD1

Aka. The Wheel; Wheels of Fate

The music of light

Abel Gance, Charles Pathé  d/w  Abel Gance  ph  Léonce-Henry Burel (and others)  ed  Abel Gance, Marguerite Beauge  Arthur Honegger (Robert Israel)  art  unknown 

Severin-Mars (Sisif), Gabriel de Gravone (Elie), Pierre Magnier (Jacques de Hersan), Georges Terof (Machefer), Ivy Close (Norma),

Such was the cinema described by Abel Gance, as spoken by Kenneth Branagh in Brownlow and Gill’s superlative documentary Cinema Europe.  That this was the title of their episode about French silent cinema speaks wonders about Gance’s impact on his nation’s cinema.  Though the Lumières, Méliès, Feuillade and Bernard made lasting contributions, it was Gance who was their supreme silent cine-poet and one true maverick.  And it is La Roue, arguably even more than Napoleon, for which he is most fêted in his homeland.  “There is cinema before and after La Roue as there is painting before and after Picasso”, said Jean Cocteau at the time.  Time has only endorsed that statement. 

            Sisif the train driver rescues a small girl, Norma, from a train crash in which her parents are killed and decides to adopt the little girl as his own.  Fifteen years later, he finds that his girl is in love with his own son, Elie, but also finds himself growing dangerously obsessed with her.  When a rich man offers to marry the girl, he decides to take drastic action and crash the train taking her away, thus killing both he and his beloved, only to be prevented by his co-driver.  (more…)

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