Thursday, February 25, 2016

Oscar picks, and a little live opera

Okay, the Oscars happen this Sunday. As usual I’m bored stiff and will probably ignore it. Actually, more likely, I’ll be watching movies on Netflix. But I did get to see several of the pictures in nomination – pretty much forcing myself since there were next to none I wanted to see (Dec. 12 post). So herewith my pick for Best Picture. (Disclaimer: I didn’t see Bridge of Spies, Mad Max: Fury Road and The Martian.) …..The Revenant (Alejandro González Iñárritu) should win based on cinematography, drama, acting, and story……My next fave is Spotlight (Tom McCarthy), a journalistic procedural about abuse in the Boston Roman Catholic archdiocese. If you’re a journalist you’ll love it since it captures a newsroom atmosphere and its (flawed) personalities. Though I still don’t understand how these folks, as portrayed, could have done a major investigative report and write a voluminous story based on just jotting down a few notes here and there……Third fave is The Big Short (Adam McKay), the take of how the housing crisis brought down Wall Street, and almost the world, during the Greeaaatt Recession. The movie was lauded for how it so simply and entertainingly explained the arcane jargon of Wall Street. Nevertheless I still didn’t get all of it. The film was also biased by blaming only capitalism as the cause for default mortgages. Where was the critique of government policy that sought to make available a home for every family just like politicians of a bygone era wanted a chicken in every pot? And nowhere portrayed were the greedy and gullible average mortgagees who should have known they never could have afforded a house......Whoever knew that Brooklyn, the borough, was so Irish? There isn’t a Jewish deli in sight in this movie of the same name (Tom McCarthy) that paints an insular Irish world across the East River, post World War II. It’s a nice period portrayal of Irish immigrants and good character study of one in particular, with great acting by Saoirse Ronan. Finally, Room, (Lenny Abrahamson) had its moments and - spoiler alert - thankfully wasn’t set entirely in, uh, one space, the real human story breaking out in the second half of the film.

I caught a recent Metropolitan Opera Live in HD at the cinema for the first time. It was rather interesting and almost better than actually being at Lincoln Center. This included the almost football game like intermission. Instead of players being pulled away by a reporter before going to the locker room, the breathless opera singers were corralled by the ebullient host Renée Fleming for a scene by scene assessment. In this case there was soprano Diana Damrau (above) as lead Leila in Bizet's Les Pêcheurs de Perles (The Pearl Fishers). She’s so good she made it seem her performance was like a walk in the park. Altogether the experience made for an enjoyable Saturday afternoon. But where was the audience? There were all of seven people in the AMC Fairlane Town Center theatre.

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