Monday, October 19, 2009

Glass - the documentary

Composer Philip Glass's music might seem among the most esoteric if not captivating. This, after all, is the man whose music has been described (in complimentary tones) as opening "the acoustic door to the unknown" and as an artist who does "existential dread better than anybody." One therefore might think the pianist remote and intimidating. Not at all. The opening shot of 2007's Scott Hicks (Shine) documentary shows Glass on a family outing in the front car of the Cyclone roller coaster at Coney Island, New York, screaming his head off like everybody else. In fact, in the movie, Glass, A Portrait of Philip in Twelve Parts, the composer - age 70 at the time the film was made - comes across as a regular guy (as if shrugging "what, me, one of contemporary music's foremost composers?") if abundantly talented and a workaholic, often juggling music with family life including a couple of small kids and the requisite toy-covered living room floor. Hicks follows Glass from his New York residence to summer house on Cape Breton Island, to collaboration with musicians and filmmakers including editing room suite work with Woody Allen, and preparing for opening night of his latest opera Waiting for the Barbarians in Germany. Definitely worth a view. Available on DVD

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