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Michael S

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Everything posted by Michael S

  1. Andrew, I'm pleased that you're enjoying the Harnoncourt recordings! I've not heard the Kremer/Harnoncourt performance of the Violin Concerto (my set of the symphonies is the original one, with the symphonies only), but that sounds dreadful. I couldn't imagine it working well even if Beethoven himself wrote some version with a piano part. Even the best composers make bad decisions sometimes (so do conductors, orchestras, soloists, et. al.).
  2. Andrew, I think that's correct: symphonies 5 and 6 and the piano concerto all in one concert. I doubt any orchestras perform programs of that length today -- everyone in the audience would leave early (or not show up in the first place), no matter how good the music might be. Across the arts, including music of course, it is interesting to think about evolutions in critical reception. Van Gogh, if I remember correctly, died penniless, with much of his work unappreciated. Some movie critics (Pauline Kael being one of them) reacted to L'Avventura and other modernist films and didn't really affor
  3. Very cool, Andrew. Swafford's biography is great. Excellent analysis of the music itself, and also, as you point out, rich context as well. One might say that there really was a point in Vienna's music history when it was a great time to be alive. Just like Salieri says in the film Amadeus: "Vienna, city of musicians!" I hope you enjoy the Harnoncout recordings. I've always loved his recording of the third symphony in particular. I suspect that Harnoncourt has his detractors as much as he has his fans because he's unique, but I always find him thoughtful. Could you imagine what it m
  4. Michael S

    Mulan

    This seems strange to me -- I believe it happens, but "strange" in the sense that any critic's responsibility is to the film/art/book/whatever and to its creators, and so I wouldn't really understand critics who write negatively about a film or work of art to spite someone else. That's too bad. Having said that, studios sometimes won't have screenings for critics because they already know the film is terrible! If the story is true (or even if it isn't, actually), it's a reminder that genuine intellectual honesty is something that can't be overrated.
  5. Michael S

    Mulan

    And I found that it's all one endless wormhole, with my YouTube feed suggesting one video, then another, then another, and of course I couldn't stop myself from basically watching all of them. The funny thing is that I don't really even like the Star Wars sequels and only watched them because of the nostalgia I have for a childhood spent with the original trilogy (my parents took me to see A New Hope in a theater when I was but a very wee lad, and I walked out saying that it was the greatest movie ever made ). I usually trust film critics, but -- and I'm just speculating here and thin
  6. Michael S

    Mulan

    Incidentally, as a way to fill a little downtime this past week or two, I watched a handful of videos by various YouTubers discussing the Disney Star Wars sequels, Mulan, etc., and while I don't think of their content as necessarily solid criticism, I noticed a pattern in their concerns: for the most part, they're very loyal to the original films (particularly the original Star Wars trilogy, not so much the prequels), they feel that Disney doesn't make enough effort to listen to the fans, and that Disney seems to make films by "committee", instead of allowing directors and writers more autonom
  7. Ken, I also noticed that permanent links to Top 100 individual films/write-ups are also not working and only redirect to the forum's main page. Hopefully that'll be an easy fix too.
  8. Ken, I just noticed that the link for the 2020 Top 100 doesn't work, despite it working just a few days ago. I noticed that the forum interface is different, so perhaps that's affected some of the permanent links? When I use this link for the top 100, I'm redirected to the forum's main page.
  9. Michael S

    Dune

    I've had a difficult relationship, so to speak, with Herbert's novel. I've tried and failed multiple times over the years (decades, honestly) to make my way through Dune. I can't clearly pinpoint why, though -- whether it's the tone, the prose, the subject matter itself, the ideas, the characters, or something else. I've never read beyond the first quarter of the book. I'm not the most avid of sci-fi readers, but I sailed through Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land and Theodore Sturgeon's More than Human (to take just two examples) easily. I can't imagine giving Dune another try, unless Vill
  10. I've only seen the film once, many years ago, on a bad DVD transfer. So I'm definitely looking forward to the Criterion release as well.
  11. DVD Beaver's review of Beau Travail includes the forthcoming Criterion Blu-Ray. The transfer looks good.
  12. Andrew and Ken -- thanks. Seems like I need to cast a wider net (movie theater websites, online media and film reviews, etc.). For the most part, I've been sticking with Amazon Prime and the Criterion Channel but would like to access a wider array of new releases, especially since I don't intend to return to movie theaters anytime soon and since there's really no telling how long the pandemic will last.
  13. Your point underscores a related issue as well: the commercial/corporate impetus behind these serialized franchises. One could make a good argument that some narratives, whether novels, films, comic books, short stories, etc., are meant to be serials by design, but it's hard to overlook the extensive merchandizing and ticket-selling opportunities that come with Marvel and Star Wars movies. Raiders of the Lost Ark is indeed a good example of a narrative that stands on its own and, in my opinion, didn't really need a sequel and probably would have been better served without one. I say the
  14. Reviving an old thread here, for a moment. I have something of a connection to Infinity War. A couple of years ago, I was battling some health issues and was in and out of hospitals, and one Saturday I went to the theater with a couple of patients I got to know. I wasn't particularly keen on seeing this film, but I didn't mind tagging along, and I thought that this might stoke nostalgia for my youth, when I read Marvel comics regularly. I have the film on Blu-Ray largely because it's a reminder of a calm moment in the midst of a storm, and I saw the film with people I cared about, even th
  15. Evan, what a treat to have heard the 3rd live. The 6th is great too, although my personal attachment to it has come and gone over the years. Same with the 4th. I once loved it, but over time I've not sustained that, and so I'd likely rank it third to last, with 2 and 1 being my least favorite of the nine. I'd be curious to hear your reaction to the string quartets if you have a chance to listen to them at some point.
  16. I'm getting the sense of this as well -- including films that stream but require a price that's equal to that of a movie-theater ticket because they are truly new releases, as opposed to, say, a movie that's had a theater run and then becomes new to Netflix or Amazon. Out of curiosity, what services do you use to keep up on independent and smaller-scale films? One of the art-house theater chains out here, Laemmle, has been streaming new independent films (for full-price movie-theater admission, granted). I just haven't taken the time yet to stream anything on their site.
  17. Gosh, sorry to hear that, Andrew -- it's a sobering reminder of how varied and deep the effects of this pandemic really are. I always want to pull my hair out whenever I hear someone say: "what's the big deal with Covid? It's just like having a normal flu." I don't know enough about the movie theater business or enough about film distribution to predict with any certainty what will become of theaters and patterns of distribution in the long term. But I suspect that if this pandemic continues for quite some time (which it probably will), it's hard not to see it as game-changing for movie-g
  18. I'd say it's both: the sense of struggle and the range of emotion, and, to go with that, a sense of ambition and longing. For me, I find all of those qualities in, for example, the Egmont overture, the 9th symphony, piano sonata no. 15, string quartet no. 12, and so much more. His violin concerto too. Perhaps all this is why I generally prefer to hear Beethoven performed on modern instruments with modern-sized orchestras -- so that the sound, the dynamics, the feelings, etc. all resonate in a large way. Performances with much smaller forces and older instruments often sound thin to my ears and
  19. Andrew, I really appreciate your take on this issue. I can definitely speak from first-hand experience about how emotionally and psychologically taxing the isolation from the lockdown can be; and because of that experience, I desperately want to resume normal life and be able to visit movie theaters and attend museum exhibits and have leisurely meals at restaurants with friends, and I can understand when people just get tired of the lockdown and, for relief, leave their homes and go places, even if they're cognizant of the danger. But, here in Southern California, where the infection rates are
  20. Andrew, something I forgot to mention in my original post: one of the reasons I've always been drawn to Beethoven's music is that I find it very emotionally resonant; that's true of all the classical music I like, but with Beethoven -- and this is difficult to express in words -- brought a certain kind of emotive quality to his music that I've never really found in other composers. Plus, there was just so much growth in his composing across the course of his life: late Beethoven, in his piano sonatas, string quartets, symphonies, and more, is very distinct from his early and middle phases. So
  21. 2020 marks the 250th anniversary of Beethoven's birth. Nearly every classical music record label under the sun has already released, or will be releasing, new recordings to celebrate the occasion -- everything from Beethoven's symphonies and string quartets, to his piano sonatas, vocal music, chamber music, concertos, and works of his that aren't recorded very often. It's actually a bit overwhelming if you regularly keep your eye on new releases -- uh, another set of LvB's piano concertos? Haven't even heard the previous three new releases yet. At any rate, 2020 being an important annive
  22. Christian, I can't say this with certainly (because it's been a long time since I've watched the Criterion supplements for the film), but I think the audio commentary does include some discussion of that blackface sequence. I watched L'Eclisse when I was going through a big Antonioni/European modernism phase and some of the analyses of the film that I read at that time explained the sequence either as Antonioni's criticism of European imperialism and/or a statement on Vittoria's character arc/experience with modernity ... or something close to that. Off hand, I don't recall exactly where I fou
  23. I enjoyed reading your thoughts about the film, Christian. A side note: I fondly remember Fangoria, although I was more a reader of Starlog, and had a subscription for several years when I was a kid. I eventually discarded all of the issues I owned. Occasionally, I have moments when I wished I had saved at least some of them, such as a special issue on Blade Runner and one on Peter Hyams' Outland. Such a great magazine for a curious kid like me. For the most part, the visuals in Underwater are indeed pretty good. I love the opening shot: a look down a corridor, then the camera pans left
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