Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Sunday, February 24, 2013
Of moral compasses and light-meters - on becoming sensitive (Books - The Starboard Sea by Amber Dermont)
The Starboard Sea (St. Martin's Griffin, 2012) begins when a wealthy, intelligent teenager, Jason, experiences the death of his friend and sailing partner, Cal, to suicide and everything that once worked in his life goes to hell. His father arranges his transfer to Bellingham, the last chance in prep schools, the school to which boys and girls are transferred when they have screwed up one to many times. There, a boy who by most standards has it all - decent looks, smarts, he plays the piano, he's a star on the sailing team, he's rich, and he even fits in - there Jason proceeds to pull to the side-lines, notice the hardships of other people, and become an outsider who cares.
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
A university-educated musicologist (the passionate Janet McTeer) goes 'up the mountain' to collect the authentic folk music of Appalachia. Songcatcher (2000) is not the strongest script in the world, but it has Janet McTeer and Pat Carroll in it and it tells a good story about having the strength to go one's own way.
Monday, February 18, 2013
Meryl Streep and Jim Broadbent are wasted on The Iron Lady (2011) dir. Phyllida Lloyd. The film tries desperately, if not to portray Margaret Thatcher sympathetically, at least to trace the origin of her rabid fiscal conservatism and inhumane governing choices. It doesn't succeed. Being a shopkeeper's daughter or being laughed at by school chums needn't make one unempathic. In fact, it could easily do the opposite. Meryl Streep has so much age makeup on that she looks like a lizard, and the film chooses to tell its story of fairly recent history via so many cliched montages, with such a baldly commercial soundtrack, that I wondered why they didn't make a 10 minute music video and have done with it. The endless montages - Maggie at home, Maggie losing the election, Maggie winning the election, Maggie ruining the British economy, the masses mad at Maggie and rioting in Brixton, Maggie fighting in the Falklands, in addition to being banal, seemed to wish to skirt actual scene writing so that the film wouldn't have to have an opinion on her politics. Want a lesson in what austerity does to an economy, America? Look at Thatcherism. Anyway, her austerity was a lie. She was glad to spend millions of pounds when it came to a war in the Falklands. Given the way she decimated funding for the arts in Britain, as a director I certainly wouldn't have wanted the job of directing her biopic.
Sunday, February 17, 2013
Artful (The Penguin Press, 2012) by happenstance this past week, thought it sounded interesting, and then walked into my favorite bookshop the next day looking for something else, and I thought - there's that book I read about. I can never resist browsing the books stacked on the big tables at Three Lives Booksellers. I read a page and thought - oh, I really do have to read this: its art criticism but it's also a dialogue between a woman and her dead lover, and it was originally delivered as a series of lectures, which really means she has written a dramatic dialogue. So anyway, I bought Artful as well as the novel I had come in for and even though I was really looking forward to reading the novel, something made me start Artful on the way home in the subway that evening and I was stunned, hooked instantly. I did not want to stop reading it.
Saturday, February 16, 2013
Thursday, February 14, 2013
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
The 105th Helicon Symposium, a series of salon-like chamber music concerts in intimate settings, presented solo works by Bach, including Johnny Gandelsman playing the Chaconne from the violin Partita #2 in D Minor. It's meditation listening to an extended piece for a single instrument while New York's own never-ending score plays in the background.
Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Sunday, February 10, 2013
Breathing life into a world of hoplessness and decay (Books - The Witch of Exmoor by Margaret Drabble)
The Witch of Exmoor (Harcourt Brace, 1996) and although I read it through, I found most of its characters irritating, its voice snide, and the foray into experimental magical technique in the final pages a stretch that didn't pay off, but that is not to say that it is not worth reading.
Saturday, February 9, 2013
Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Sunday, February 3, 2013
Lying Awake (Vintage, 2000), itself an act of contemplation, is Sister John wrestling with the decision of whether to take this treatment available for her pain and risk losing the sense that she is finally graced with the presence of god or whether to stay as she is.
Saturday, February 2, 2013
Jean Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child directed by Tamra Davis captures the feel of the early 1980s NYC downtown arts scene and the vibrant painter Jean Michel Basquiat. He went from living on the streets of the Village to being a millionaire in a couple of years. He was called some sort of savage innocent, but Basquiat thought that they wouldn't have used such language if he had been a white painter.
Friday, February 1, 2013
He was a three-term mayor of New York City from 1934-45. Just five feet tall and energetically motivated to do right by the common person. They wrote a Broadway musical - Fiorello! - about him in 1959, which I saw last night, presented by Encores. He was Fiorello H. LaGuardia.
He was another three-terrm mayor of New York City from 1978-89. Irrepresively fiesty, he pulled the city out of near bankruptcy. There's no musical...yet, but a documentary film about him premiered just a few days ago. He was Ed Koch and he died this morning at 88.