Friday, 10 June 2011

Plan of the City

Alex Ross's blog The Rest is Noise is one of my favourite windows to the world of "avant-garde" classical music. I don't like everything he advocates there but it's always worth the time to read his articles or listen to a recommendation. This is a case in point, a very enjoyable 13 minutes.


PLAN OF THE CITY from Joshua Frankel on Vimeo.

A film by Joshua Frankel, the music is Judd Greenstein's "Change" performed by the NOW ensemble who are also the actors in the piece. I haven't tried listening to the music without the visuals so I can't say if it stands on its merits alone, but all together it's oddly compelling. Expand the image to full screen to see it in HD.

La Bohème at l'Opera de Montréal

My partner-in-life and I had a wonderful child-free Saturday evening, dinner at a bistro followed by the opera, just like we used to have back in the 90's. In didn't matter that the opera wasn't outstanding; La Bohème is always a likeable piece with some very attractive arias and this was a simple production. The one standout was the performance of Marianne Fiset as Mimi, a wonderfully clear and melodic soprano who sang with delicacy and nuance and more than compensated for the bombastic approach of some of the other performers.

And the boys were sleeping like angels when we arrived home...

Incendies

I finally found time to watch the Quebec film everyone was talking about a few months ago - have I mentioned I'm very busy? Set mostly in a fictional country that's a lot like Lebanon, "Incendies" is a violent tale of how violence begets more violence. (Well that's a twitter-length summary, it's a lot more than that too.)

The plot is not subtle and has at least one too many incredible coincidences, but there are delicate moments of cinematography, fine French-Canadian actors and a soundtrack by Radiohead that's used to hauntingly good effect. It's moving and thought-provoking.

I was haunted by this scene for a week: an orphanage under a pitiless sun, the kids lined up to have their heads shaved, Radiohead's "You and Whose Army?" playing softly.



David Foster Wallace on Life and Work

It's been a very busy week and my level of patience hasn't always been up to the challenge, at work or at home. This Friday lunchtime I re-read an essay by David Foster Wallace and I'm feeling a bit re-charged: 

"The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day. That is real freedom. The alternative is unconsciousness, the default-setting, the "rat race" -- the constant gnawing sense of having had and lost some infinite thing."