Jul 18

Karajan – A film by Dornheim ???

This is not exactly a music review, but rather, the review of a film about a musician. This film attempts a limited biography of Karajan, one of many, including comments of many musicians still alive that have played under his baton. The film is mildly biographical, but very limited in its scope as a biography. It certainly deals with the complex nature of this man, thought by some to be warm and friendly, others, to be cold and distant. It starts from his early career at his birthplace in Salzburg, ending in his painful last few years while suffering severe back pain and conducting the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. Each phase in his life is given only cursory treatment, while tending to be positive as a whole. Thus, a film worth watching for Karajan fans, but not the best film biography of the man.

 

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Jul 16

Little Miss Sunshine ??

It has recently come into vogue to show highly pathological families doing highly pathological activities, and we are supposed to consider that humorous. Such is the case with this film. Fortunately, except for the foul mouth of the grandfather, as well as his drug-using activities, most of what we see is not terribly offensive and can be watched by even young children. This is not a film to inspire one to greater things. It is cesspool cinephotography. It does not make a moral point, or suggest that the behaviors are either wrong, or that there might be a higher aspiration in life. The greatest humor is when “Little Miss Sunshine” Olive does a faux striptease venue for the beauty contest. Both the pseudo-moral reaction of the judges as well as the accepted humor of the matter actually were not funny. I found it hard except in a few spots to see the comedy in this film. Not worth watching.

 

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Jul 15

Chuck Norris Collection, including Delta Force I & II, Missing in Action I, II, & III. ????

Having just seen the Die Hard Collection and the Lethal Weapon Series, and Rambo series, I tended to like this series the most, with the Die Hard collection a close second. The Delta Force series included two settings, the first with terrorists in a NY airport, and second with drug-dealers from South America, and the MIA series dealt with, of course, Vietnam. Norris was entertaining in that he is not only a good actor, but was able to maintain a story line without much sex and obscene language. All of these films derive their entertainment value from the special effects of things blowing up. If that isn’t your cup of tea, watch something else. Fortunately, this collection came at under $15, and I wouldn’t pay much more for it.

 

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Jul 12

This was my second STP, and we decided to do it in one day. It is a double century, with a distance of 202.5 miles. Fourteen hours after a start at 5 am, Luc and I crossed the finish line, still going rather strong.

Here are beginning and ending photos….

 

I rode my yellow bird, which held up wonderfully. I got no back pain nor neck pain, and the pain in my butt was more a chafing than pain from sitting on the saddle for 13 hours with only short breaks. The STP was sunny but cooler this year than last. It also seemed to have less hills. I didn’t understand that, except that I might have gotten a bit stronger on the hills. Luc was still awesome, setting the pace the entire distance. He is really a strong cyclist. Russ did well, but 160 miles into our venture, was having some crampy abdominal pain which made it miserable for him. All of this means that we will have to do it again next year, because I want to see Russ cross the finish line in style. He has better cycle strength than me, so it should not be a problem for him.

 

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Jul 12

Fierrabras, an opera by Franz Schubert, and performed at the Zürich Opera House, conducted by Franz Welser-Möst. ??

Schubert wrote 10 operas, yet they are all rarely if ever performed. This is the only opera of his that has been actually filmed. The music itself gets 5-stars, as Schubert remains the greatest song writer ever. The story and plot line gets a 3 star rating, mostly because Schubert did not excel in finding good script writers. The music performance gets a 4, and the staging gets a bare 1-star. The staging is an odd 20th century, historical, minimalist mix. The worst part was the constant distraction of “Schubert”, somebody dressed up like Schubert, who had a rare speaking role, but otherwise mostly interacted constantly with the singers. Fortunately, there were no suitcases or trench coats. There was an oversized piano and chair, that seemed to fit into every scene, and multiple doors that the stage people and singers would come and go through. All in all, it was too bizarre, and did not contribute to explaining the opera. Opera, by its nature, is both auditory and visual. It is hard to omit the visual in an opera, without destroying the intent of the composer. Liberties with staging are as much a crime to the music, as attacking the script itself. When the visual elements distract or attempt a completely different re-interpretation of the composer’s intention of the opera, then I consider the performance to have failed. And that is where this performance has failed. It would be better to get a recording of this opera, than to watch what has been presented in this performance.

 

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