Wednesday, December 31, 2008


The Colorado Symphony gave an excellent Viennese concert tonight featuring the music of Strauss and others. It was a very enjoyable evening. The guest conductor Scott O'Neil was a good speaker, but the highlight of the evening was a series of solos by associate concertmaster Claude Sims. He had excellent technique and a gorgeous sound, particularly playing the high harmonics.

It was an excellent way to end this year and start 2009!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008


THE WRESTLER is one of the best films I've seen this year. It's ultra-violent, and not for the average moviegoer, but it's very well written and shot, and the acting is phenomenal. Mickey Rourke's face tells a story without having to say a word. Marisa Tomei is also excellent. I would expect several Oscar nominations.

There's not much else to say except that it's a difficult movie to watch, but rewarding in its own disturbed way.

Monday, December 29, 2008


As a big fan of the surreal comedy of the original series, I was a bit reticent to see the feature film until I learned Steve Carrell was playing the lead role. Although there are a few misfires, overall, the movie was a pleasant surprise, and I laughed out loud a number of times while watching it. Carrell brings a warmth to any role he plays, and he's a naturally funny guy who doesn't need to try. Most of the screenwriters' decisions were for the better, making Smart a more believable character in today's movie marketplace.

I hope that if there is a sequel, that it lives up to the first. They did leave themselves plenty of options.

Recommended for a rental.

Saturday, December 27, 2008


The series POV on PBS had an excellent documentary tonight titled INHERITENCE. It is about the daughter of the Nazi Plaszow concentration camp commander, Amon Goeth, meeting one of the women who as a young girl was forced to work in his home.

Goeth was the character played by Ralph Fiennes in SCHINDLER'S LIST.

It's a very interesting film and I highly recommend it. Many PBS stations will be airing it over the next month and is is available via streaming as well.

You can read more about it here:

Friday, December 26, 2008

Maudlin Road

I have not read the novel upon which REVOLUTIONARY ROAD is based, but I can say this: sometimes books are better left as books.

This movie has a plot that would be melodramatic even on ALL MY CHILDREN. There's not a lot that happens, which leaves the audience plenty of time to figure out where every scene is going long before the characters do. The actors rise far, far above the material, particularly Michael Shannon, who is the only sane character in the film, and he lives in an asylum.

The symbolism in the film is very heavy-handed, with characters named "Frank" and "April" and the family names "The Wheelers" and "The Givings" being some of the less offensive but still obvious markers. The structure of the movie is a complete mess, with pointless and confusing flashbacks, and occasional scenes from an outside point of view for no reason (including the final scene, which is laughable).

I can't recommend anything about this film.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


DOUBT is based a play and reeks of it.

It takes itself WAY too seriously, and sledgehammers every point home with over-the-top symbolism that even a third-grader could use to write a thesis.

The characters are all completely one-dimensional; there are no shades of gray here. The acting is very good, although they never explain why Meryl Streep is doing a Boston accent in the Bronx. She has very little to work with in the paper-thin story, so I'll give her some slack for trying to inject something into the character. The closest thing we get to a backstory on any of the characters is that Streep's character was once married. Secondary characters are completely undeveloped, including all the students.

I really wanted to like this film, but I can't recommend it.

Monday, December 22, 2008


MILK chooses to focus on Harvey Milk, rather than the much more interesting story of Dan White. Perhaps it's because I remember the story so well, or perhaps it's that the word-of-mouth on the film is so high, that I'm a little let down by the film itself. Sean Penn is good, but not phenomenal in the role. I was more impressed by many of the smaller parts, especially James Franco and Diego Luna.

It's a good film, and I highly recommend it, particularly with the Prop 8 passage in California making it so timely, but I think renting the documentary The Times of Harvey Milk will be a much more satisfying viewing if you are really interested in the story.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008


I see a lot of new theatrically released films every year, although most of them between November and February. This year I had a three-month lapse between MOMMA MIA! and tonight, when I saw SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE.

If someone had said to me, "One of the best films you will see this year will be a Bollywood film directed by Danny Boyle," I'd have said they were crazy.

If someone had said to me "One of the best films you will see this year will be about WHO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE.... in India!," I'd have said they were crazy.

If someone had said that the aforementioned film would be one of the most deeply romantic ever made, well, you know where this is going.

Turns out, I'm the crazy one. I can't recommend this film enough. There's a wonderful combination of Indian and American film styles, some excellent acting, and a fantastic script. If you get a chance, see it.