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Archive for November 15th, 2010

Stage capture from Metropolitan Opera’s production of Donizetti’s ‘Don Pasquale’

by Sam Juliano

     This is the fifth season of HD broadcasts from the Metropolitan Opera house in Manhattan aired to destinations worldwide.  For disciples of the form who reside in the shadows of this famed institution, a quandary remains as whether an appearance at the Met is still preferable to a visit to a local movie house to take in the well-embellished movie screen presentation.  While for opera purists with deep pockets the choice remains a no-brainer, there are some compelling issues in the mix here that are making a decision of preference progressively difficult.  With eleven Saturday afternoon broadcasts on the schedule for 2010-11, (with Wednesday evening encores in place for each opera) the present season offers more titles than any to date, leaving only a smattering of ‘must-see’  operas that aren’t on the HD schedule.  Obviously, for those who can afford it, the ideal compromise would be to attend the eleven broadcasta, and purchase some tickets at the Met for several operas not being offered on HD.  Bt for those who don’t have that luxury, the matter of opera purity is quickly becoming a non-concern.  The astonishing popularity of the broadcasts -many theatres have reported sellouts months in advance- has inspired executive at the Metropolitan Opera to give the viewers many “extras” unavailable to those attending the events in person.  These include interviews with the stars and behind-the-scenes craftsmen bewteen acts, capsule summaries of the opera from a regular host, and the backstage maneuverings of carpenters and set designers.  In addition -and most critically- the company’s cameramen are able to capture vital close-ups, while maintaining a mid-range stage picture, that is preferable to nearly every in house vantage point, save for those blessed with orchestra seats near the stage. (more…)

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Stage capture of BAM’s Seattle import of “Throne of Blood” based on Akira Kurosawa’s screen classic

by Sam Juliano

The thrilling appearance of the lead singer and songwriter of the British band ‘The Housemartins,’ Paul Heaton, in the comment thread under Jamie Uhler’s outstanding consideration of  the group, was one of the site’s most honored moments ever.  This is the second time Mr. Uhler has attracted the attention of the key artist in one of his feature posts, and he is to be enthusiastically applauded.

Meanwhile, Stephen Russell-Gebbett’s uniquely esoteric and trenchant animation countdown continues, with a wide assortment of sub-genres and forms making for as diverse a treatment as we’ve ever seen in any genre listing.   Joel Bocko a.k.a. Movie Man has thankly continued on with his “Sunday afternoon Matinee” series after completing his long-running “Best of the 21st Century” feature.  Elsewhere, Andrew Wyatt is presently covering the St. Louis Film Festival, and Adam Zanzie of Icebox Movies  is just weeks away from his scheduled Steven Spielberg blogothon, (which he will co-moderate with fellow blogger Ryan Kelly).  Jason Marshall has resumed with his annual coverage of cinema, and is well into 1937 at Movies Over Matter.  Back at Wonders Jim Clark penned another one of his classically exhaustive essays, examining Federico’s Fellini’s 8 1/2, and Allan continues with his “Fish Obscuro” label, which at present plows onward with some outstanding works in Japanese cinema.  Both Bob Clark and Maurizio Roca are waiting in the wings with their planned countdowns in science-fiction and film noir that will come up after Stephen’s animation project is concluded.  Volunteers are being sought for planned ventures into the Western, the War Film and music pollings for Best Songs and Best Albums.  Yours Truly will be managing the Best Musical Film Polling, while Joel has indicated he may be interested in doing one on the Best Documentary Films. (more…)

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(Japan 1984 116min)

Director Hayao Miyazaki; Screenplay Hayao Miyazaki; Music Joe Hisaishi; Voice Acting Sumi Shimamoto (Nausicaa)

By Stephen Russell-Gebbett

This captivating young woman is Hayao Miyazaki’s greatest creation, an embodiment of what so many of his films are about : concern for the environment, empathy towards the misunderstood, and an exhilarating love of flight. In some ways she may be what Miyazaki would like to be, or perhaps the girl he would like by his side.

Miyazaki’s original seven-volume manga is incredible; detailed and refined, epic and awe-inspiring. The film is a rough adaptation of the first two volumes capped by a somewhat abrupt ending that deviates completely from the original. The film cannot hope to have the same scope and heart as the graphic novel but it does have the same excitement and that same exquisite design that would become a Ghibli trademark (it is little known that Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind was made before the studio officially existed).

(more…)

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