Archive for August 2nd, 2010

by Sam Juliano
     Philip Glass is widely regarded as the most influential composer of the late part of the 20th century, yet his reputation was anything but secure during his maiden period, where many continued to liken his style to overt minimalism.  Glass himself has since distanced himself from such a constrictive, even unflattering appraisal, choosing instead to define many of his main lines as following patterns of ‘repetitive structure.’  While some listeners have tuned out to the composers pulsating redundancy, others have found the music oddly infectious, building in Ravelian intensity, to soul-stirring climaxes.  Rock bands, film composers and his stylistist compatriot John Adams have all testified to Glass’ considerable influence on their own work. 
     Glass has written for a wide variety of forms, including instrumental and opera, and has penned some celebrated film scores, three of which received academy award nominations.  But it was his modernist operas that have, perhaps, left their most lasting mark on the musical landscape.     With Einstein on the Beach, Satyagraha, and Akhnaten, Glass completed in the early 80’s what he described as his “portrait” operas, which are works that portray men whose personal vision transformed the thinking of their times through the power of ideas rather than by “military force.”  The music in these opera blends mathematical clarity with a kind of mysterious beauty, that some have seen as mystical.  The music showcases a circular process that evolves into a repeating cycle that continuously delays resolution.  The process employs both additive and subtractive formulas.  The result, like most of Glass’ music before and since is slow to engage, but it builds to almost spiritual intensity. (more…)

Read Full Post »

Robert Duvall plays central role in critically-praised drama ‘Get Low’

by Sam Juliano

     Dave Hicks’ Best Directors countdown concluded this week with the crowning of Alfred Hitchcock as his #1 helmer of all-time.  The choice led to a spirited comments section, with many compiling their own lists after penning their own Hitchcock favorites.  Sadly, Dave has been under the weather as of late, and all of us at Wonders extend our best wishes for a speedy return to full health.  What Dave has accomplished with his annual countdown, Top 100 noir polling and the the Directors appraisal in succession is nothing less than miraculous, and kudos are very much in order.

Here at Wonders, there is a month-long window at hand between the completed 2000’s polling (where David Lynch’s Mullholland Drive was named the Best Film of the Decade by 40 voters) and the upcoming horror polling to be chaired by Jamie Uhler and Troy and Kevin Olson, beginning at the end of August.  In the meantime,  Jamie has been posting a multi-part labor of love on Rainer Maria Wilke’s Letters to a Young Poet, while Allan’s series on Yoshida and Anthony Mann have been sustaining the site’s trademark turnover.  Bob Clark’s review on Christopher Nolan’s Inception has resulted in a tremendous comment thread that grows longer by the day, and is a testament to what was a fascinating marathon essay.  Other than that, congratulations to “Artesmia” for naming ‘Donald Crisp’ to win our Anthony Mann DVD Giveaway contest.

Another hectic week in Manhattan was mainly fueled by attendance at the Chaplin and Ozu Festivals at the Film Forum and IFC Film Center, respectively.  Here is the completed itinerary:

Get Low   **** 1/2       (Saturday night)   Lincoln Plaza Cinemas

A Woman in Paris  ****   (Monday)  Chaplin Festival at Film Forum

Payday          ****    (Monday)      Chaplin Festival at Film Forum

Monsieur Verdoux  **** 1/2 (Wednesday)   Chaplin Festival at Film Forum

The Gold Rush   *****       (Thursday)   Chaplin Festival at Film Forum

A Dog’s Life    *****         (Thursday)     Chaplin Festival at Film Forum

Shoulder Arms  *****    (Thursday)    Chaplin Festival at Film Forum

The Pilgrim     **** 1/2  (Thursday)   Chaplin Festival at Film Forum

Modern Times  *****   (Friday)     Chaplin Festival at Film Forum

Sunnyside     *** 1/2    (Friday)     Chaplin Festival at Film Forum

The Great Dictator    **** 1/2  (Sunday)   Chaplin Festival at Film Forum

Brothers and Sisters of the Toda Family **** (Sunday) Ozu Festival at IFC (more…)

Read Full Post »