Tuesday, January 29, 2013

My take on the Oscars

I have seen 8 of the 9 nominees for Best Picture. I have not see "Amour" yet. I believe that it is due to come to the Loft on Feb. 8th. I am not so sure I want to spend 2+ hours watching an old woman die and and old man watching her die.

Here is my line up based on how I enjoyed the films; not necessarily judging any as best.

#1 - Life of Pi - Did not like the book. Loved the movie. Liked the look of it and the philosophy.
#2 - Django Unchained - A Hoot. I laughed and groaned at the black humor. Butch Cassidy and the  Sundance Kid meet Roots meet Dowton Abby. But one has to be a fan of Tarantino. And I am.
 I like Christof Waltz for Best Supporting actor although he has some strong competitors in Arkin and  De Niro.
#3 Argo - Ben Affleck should have been nominated for best Director of the suspenseful drama of a true event -the 1980 rescue of embassy workers in Iran.  A very good movie.
#4 Lincoln is sure get a lot of votes. To me it was long and not terribly moving. Good historical portrayal of the bill to end slavery. Acting was excellent and I would like to see Sally Field get best supporting actress and Daniel Day-Lewis for best actor.
#5 Les Miserables - The film production of the successful stage play worked for me although not for most of my friends. I thought the acting was good and the voices OK. The overall look could get the Oscar for Production Design IMO.
#6 Jessica  Chastain should get the best actress award for basically carrying Zero Dark Thirty - the story of one womans 12 year hunt for Osama Binladen.  Good movie but the torture was 'too much information' for me .
#7. Silver Lining Playbook is hard to categorize. Many critics as well as the public loved this movie but I had a hard time seeing it as a romantic comedy because of the very serious topic of mental illness. More of a drama. I can see both leads getting Oscar nods as well as the supporting actors.  But not great IMO.

#8 Beasts of the Southern Wild was confusing to me. We walked out of the the theater saying "What the What did we just see.  The story of a Dad and his percocious daughter living in unbelievable  poverty in the 'bathtub' of the swamps in the deltas of Lousianna.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Blessing of the Bikes and Bikers

          This event was held at Desert Hills Lutheran Church in Green Valley, Az. Jan. 29 2013
Initially the idea sort of turned me off. Blessing of the animals and even of new homes seemed somewhat in order -but bikes?  However on hearing the words of thanks and praise and wishes for safety and good will to all encountered on the highways, I had a change of heart.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

A Contrast in Entertainment

Experienced two very different kinds of entertainment today -both very enjoyable.

In the late morning I went to my local cinema for the showing of the Metropolitan live in HD performance of Maria Stuarda. This is the story of the conflict between cousins Mary Stuart - Queen of Scots and Queen Elizabeth I of England in the late 16th century. Mary was Catholic and Elizabeth was Protestant. Both loved the Earl of  Leichester. Both had their defenders; Cecil for Elizabeth and Talbot for Mary. The main characters were sung to perfection by Elza van den Heever as Elizabeth and Joyce DiDonado. The men  were excellent as well. Elizabeth does execute Mary. But in history, it is Mary that wins out.  It is her son James that becomes King of both Scotland and England as well as Ireland following the death of Elizabeth and reigns for 20 years.The Met has brought the opera to everyone. I highly recommend these performances. Check your local cinemas. And check out the Met on the web: metopera.org

In the late afternoon I watched the Oscar nominated animation movie Frankenweenie. In this stop action animation Tim Burton returns to what he does best. This is a far out weird and exaggerated animation and story. After his beloved dog Sparky dies chasing a ball into the street Victor  gets the idea to bring him back to life after seeing his science teacher - a Vincent Price look a like -demonstrate firing electricity into a frog leg.  Coincidentally the students are competing for a science project. Victor succeeds in bringing Sparky back to life just like Frankenstein did with the monster. Soon all the other students are bringing back dead animals and chaos ensues. Filmed in black and white with the look of horror movies of an earlier time. Loved it and laughed out loud. Buddy, however did not.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

The Metropolitan Opera HD Cinema

The Met: Live in HD series has brought the opera up "close and personal" to seasoned opera lovers and to some of us who have seen very few if any operas before this opportunity.
My friend and I have become quite addicted to this Saturday Matinee opportunity to enjoy the splendor of the Metropolitan Opera.

Yesterday we saw Les Troyens by Hector Berlioz. I was familiar with Berlioz's orchestral music but not opera. This is a long opera -5 and 1/2 hours and is not performed often because there are few Opera
Houses that can stage such grand sets and large number of chorus members and dancers.
There are numerous lengthy orchestral pieces without voice that were performed by dance and ballet.

The story of the Trojan Horse is familiar to many. I first read it in Latin too many years ago to mention.
It is a story of waring nations, gods and love and death.  Frequent themes of many operas.

The orchestra conducted by Fabio Luis, chorus and choreography of dance accompanied the great voices of Deborah Voight as Cassandra, Susan Graham as Dido and Bryan, a new young tenor from New Orleans, as Aeneas..

I strongly recommend you check out metopera.org and find the cinema in your city that show these Live in HD performances,