Monday, April 11, 2011

Brief reviews

Brief reviews:

“The Tourist”- Now all together:  Angelina is gorgeous; Angelina is sexy; Angelina is elegant.  Now having gotten that out of the way, the tourist reminds me of one of the Audrey Hepburn caper movies, e.g., “Charade.”  In spite of her many strengths, Angelina has a bit less of the elegant but a lot more of the sexy that Hepburn. Those who say there was no chemistry between Angelina and Johnny Depp don’t seem to understand there was to be no chemistry until the very end.  Nevertheless, there is on kiss fairly early on in the movie that was very hot, including some tongue action.  That meets my criterion for “chemistry”, as opposed to the Matt Damon and Emily Blunt kiss in “The Adjustment Bureau.”  I do not regret spending two-hours on “The Tourist.” 

“Insidious”- This spook-movie was good for the first half.  It was creepy and unnerving at times.  The second half was pretty bad because it was so derivative.  Patrick Wilson played the same character he played in “Little Children.”  He is getting type-cast as a slacker kind of guy.  The creepiest part of the movie was in the séance where the medium put on a strange gas mask-like contraption.  This movie would have been so much better if the writers did not feel compelled to explain everything (as silly as the explanation was turned out to be).  I’ve read that American audiences do not like lose ends in a movie so maybe that is why we have so many silly endings.  There are two examples of a movie with an inconclusive end that are quite good.  The first is “Picnic at Hanging Rock,” an Australian import from the early 1970’s.  The second is “The Entity” starring Barbara Hershey (who is also in “Insidious”).  The latter is in the horror genre and involves a woman being molested by an unseen spirit.  We don’t know why, but we do see the how.  We also know that the attacks continued after she left town.  For me, that was a anxiety-filled, ambiguous, ending.  Martin Scorsese includes “The Entity” on his list of the eleven scariest movies ever made.

“Love and Other Drugs”- To be clear, I just do not get the whole Anne Hathaway craze, but apparently I may be alone in that.  This film can’t decide if it’s an indictment of the pharmaceutical industry, a romantic comedy, a disease-of-the week movie, or a film about a man child growing up.  Jake Gyllenhaal was good, and he has the most manscaped eyebrows and chest hair I have ever seen.  The movie was made in Pittsburgh so I enjoyed that part.  This is a badly focused story that is just passable. 

“The Borgias”is a new period piece from Showtime.  It stars Jeremy Irons as the patriarch of this family of ambition and moral laxness.  Irons is wonderful and revels in his character.  This series is worth watching just to see him act.  I did not know much about the Borgias but look forward to learn more about their family-based crime syndicate. 

The Musica Sacra Series presented a program titled “Opposites Attract” at Atlanta’s First Presbyterian Church.  The program included Stravinsky’s “Symphony of Psalms” and Faure’s “Requiem.  The church’s acoustics were terrible.  The chamber quality of the “Symphony” was totally lost in the sound blur of the hall.  Even worse, Faure’s delicate and elegant “Requiem” sounded leaden.  The organ was about the only instrument that benefited from the acoustics.  I left with a headache. 

Emory presented the Serafin String Quartet as part of its noontime concert series.  The program was a pastiche of movements from various quartets.  One was the Allegro from Dvorak’s String Quartet in F Major.  This is a melodic and beautifully shaped movement and helped to remind me of what a good composer Dvorak really was.  There were two pieces by Jennifer Higdon ( who is currently en vogue in the classical music world.  Her pieces were introduced by the ASO’s music director Robert Spano.  Higdon’s music is melodic and tonal.  The first piece was her “Amazing Grace for String Quartet.”  I have a deed for a piece of land Wasila if you can guess what theme it is based on.  The second Higdon work was two movements from her “Sky Quartet.”  These pieces were pleasant enough but didn’t seem to warrant the awe that she seems to inspire.  I need to hear more of her music.  The Serafin group was good, and substitute viola player Luke Fleming was particularly good.  His playing was strong and it reminded me of what a wonderful tone the viola has. 

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