Saturday, October 14, 2017

SAMUI SONG (Directed by Pen-Ek Ratanaruang) ***






Beautiful Viyada is a bored Thai soap opera star married to a Belgian Buddhist sculptor who insists she come to the prayer meeting. A rape happens in their home, and one suspects it was with the consent of her own husband. It is she who is raped by the Buddhist leader, so she hires a man to kill her husband. She changes her life to escape the hell of it all, retreating into a village, but the assassin hunts her down and blames her for his mother’s death; he never got paid, as she escaped. It was very convoluted at the end, as she ends up happily married to the man who raped

Monday, October 9, 2017

ARION BAROQUE ENSEMBLE: THE DOUBLE LIFE OF VIVALDI

Vincent Lauzer

Bourgie Hall, October 8th, 2 pm.

You can’t go wrong with Vivaldi especially when you have a master such as Vincent Lauzer on the stage. This concert focused on the dark and the bright side of Vivaldi's musical genius. And to help us along, there was a star in our midst: Vincent Lauzer. He's a master on baroque recorders, and he pulled them all out for this program. Vivaldi’s largo movements provided wonderful contrast to his allegro sections, and each piece, other than the vocals from “Air Cosi potessi anch’lo” from the opera Orlando Furioso and “Mio dolce amore” from the same opera, as well as another work titled, Nisi Dominus – proved that Vivaldi created astounding recorder concertos. Mr. Lauzer defies human tongue and finger dexterity. He turned his recorders into magical mesmerizing musical gods. He is brilliant. Likewise, when Claire Guimond showed off her incredible technical skills when accompanying on flute the singer for the evening, we were enchanted. Ms. Guimond is one of those rare artists who is able to express emotional dynamics on the flute. Her control, like Mr. Lauzer’s is phenomenal.

Unfortunately, the same dazzling effects from these artists were not continued once  mezzo-soprano, Meg Bragle took the stage.  This surely was an unintentional dark moment in the evening. There was no authentic nor much emotion in Ms. Bragle’s performance; her projection was flat. I was stunned by her inability to emote except in the fourth stanza of Nisi Dominus.  However, how she held that last note on the word, ‘ventis’ was incredible.  good. Her control was fine but honestly, there was not climax in any section of her  Her breathing and phrasing are exceptional and her lower quiet tones are effective enough. I think she was nervous or not at her best perhaps. Still, she did stick out as a far less seasoned artist than the others. But I felt she knew she was not “into it”, as they say.

 Praise must be given to Alexander Weimann. He commands the harpsichord while conducting, often raising his right hand to direct the orchestra and having it land lickety-split on the page to turn it. He’s a multi-tasker performer for sure. I would say that the brightness of the evening radiated through Vivaldi as Lauzer, Weimann, Guimond and the orchestra itself brought his light to us. But it began to fade when the vocalist stood under it.

As Arion enters its 37th season, we must say, “congratulations!”


Monday, October 2, 2017

A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN SAINT-SAUVEUR: KAREN MAJOR TOOK US ON A RIDE






MY DOG ZAK WITH KAREN AND HER HORSE TOD







ALL ABOARD

AVA (Directed by le Mysius) **





An ophthalmologist tells Ava she has retinitis pigmentosa, a condition that starts off with reduced vision in low light and a shrunken field of vision before full blindness sets in.
Ava takes out her frustrations on her mother Maud, a flaky working-class woman who keeps trying to keep Ava’s spirits up during their summer vacation by the sea. Ava is repulsed by her mother’s sexuality, and even more cross when she gets saddled babysitting her little sister.
 Ava meets a disaffected slinky-hipped Spanish gypsy named Juan, who is about 18 and whom she keeps seeing around town whose only companion is his dog Lupo. Ava and Juan end up becoming a kind of Bonnie and Clyde in a ridiculous plot which includes a gypsy wedding and fleeing form the police and Juan’s bother whose bride was once a girlfriend of Juan’s. She comes to the couple’s rescue
as they flee. Stupid euro trash music and over-the-top primitive costumes dawned by Ava and Juan makes this film less than what it should have been. A silly film that shows more breasts than it does intellectual brilliance and inevitability.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

SMCQ OPENS ITS SEASON WITH ECLECTIC PROGRAM




Thursday, September 29


 This concert was the 6th in the series of homage performances

Without a doubt, it was José Evengelista’s “Monodias españoles” – the final piece in the program that thrilled the audience at Pierre Mercure Hall in Montreal.  Written in 1989 but transposes for orchestra in 1995, the work’s seventeen short vignettes presented the colourful musical flavours from different regions in Spain. At the piano was the incredible Louise Bessette whose timing with the orchestra was impeccable.

These pieces were entertaining and much more melodic than the musical fare that proceeded it.  American composer, Sky Macklay’s “Microvariations” opened the evening with a work that was so fragments, full of instrumental stuttering from instruments and percussive backing, it came off as being chaotic rather than hypnotic. It did not engage us as we tried to follow some kind of cohesion in the piece.

Jean Lesage’s wonderful work was splendidly rich and musically pleasing. With passages that seemed to emulate Debussy and Stravinsky, it sounded like both were taking an exciting trip while on acid. Titled “Le concert des anachronisms délibérés”, it employed   piano, harp, clarinet and strings, and so the full bodied melody had fascinating impact. Likewise, “Clos de vie”, also by Evangelista  was instrumentally rich with banjo, electric guitar, strings, piano and vibraphone conveyed  to me various images of  rain , creepy crawly insects in the Amazon  and a dark house of mirrors with psychedelic lights.



The evening was all in all a great way to once again showcase out-of-the-box music written by great composers – all marvelously conducted before our eyes by Walter Boudreau –  artistic director of this orchestra.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

FNC FILM REVIEWS: LET THE CARCASSES TAN ( Directed by Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani)*





A lot of “Kill Bill’ chaos in this gory film that uses all kinds of hyper-close-up shots and horizontal pans that move from one face to the other. It has been placed appropriately in the Temps Zero category of the festival. The betrayals take a back seat to the butchery in this film which  will not appeal to the plot orientated cinephile. Despite the artsy experimentation, the stupid story based on a novel becomes an apocalyptic yawn where guns shoot of in mouths, at art work, at carcasses and lots of rocks. The setting is in Corsica, and the hide-out cast of sleazy characters who live totally on the edge are anti-society, especially cops. They’ve hole up in a ruin by the ocean. After a road hoist where gold bullions are stolen and lives are taken, the gang of guys and a tough gone-mad woman who  has endured  all kinds of bondage (past images) in the sun on a crucifix of sorts, The constant sound of their leather jackets throughout the movie was annoying, but the music was spot-on. Fantasia festival comes to mind when you watch this film.

                             ------------------------------------------------------------------

 AVA (Directed by Lea Mysius) **






An ophthalmologist tells Ava she has retinitis pigmentosa, a condition that starts off with reduced vision in low light and a shrunken field of vision before full blindness sets in.
Ava takes out her frustrations on her mother Maud, a flaky working-class woman who keeps trying to keep Ava’s spirits up during their summer vacation by the sea. Ava is repulsed by her mother’s sexuality, and even more cross when she gets saddled babysitting her little sister.
 Ava meets a disaffected slinky-hipped Spanish gypsy named Juan, who is about 18 and whom she keeps seeing around town whose only companion is his dog Lupo. Ava and Juan end up becoming a kind of Bonnie and Clyde in a ridiculous plot which includes a gypsy wedding and fleeing form the police and Juan’s bother whose bride was once a girlfriend of Juan’s. She comes to the couple’s rescue
as they flee. Stupid euro trash music and over-the-top primitive costumes dawned by Ava and Juan makes this film less than what it should have been. A silly film that shows more breasts than it does intellectual brilliance and inevitability.

                ------------------------------------------------------------------- 


HONEYGIVER AMONG THE DOGS (Directed by Dechen Roder) ****
 

I loved this film, but the title should have been "...among the gods". Its cinematography is an art piece in itself. Chodan a stunning pious woman is on the run.  Detective Kinley follows her into the forest posing as a teacher. Chodan has been accused of killing the head nun of the village’s nunnery. But her mystical references begin to change Kinley’s thinking. Is she really a murderer? The film ahs some funny moments that contrast to the lyrical fell of this Bhutan film. The twist at the end is certainly full of surprise.
                          _____________________________________________



MARLINA THE MURDERER IN FOUR ACTS  ****
(Directed by Mouly Surya)

 
Poor beautiful Marlina lives high up in the mountains with her hubby who is crouched in the corner. He’s dead and is about to become a mummy. A gang of thugs visit Marlina and steal her livestock and one rapes her. Before they all can, she has concocted a poison that kill all but two. Marline decapitates the leader who has raped her. She has his head and travel on a bus with strangers and her pregnant friend. This film is a bit Kill Bill, Spaghetti Western and the music is right from that genre. Spectacular scenery, macabre humor and blood move the film into its own surreal hypnotic dimension that will surely enter the film cult realm. Men are dastardly in the story, and women are the warrior heroines. The female filmmaker might very well be making a statement about men from Indonesia. Slow moving but we are in it for the long haul.
                     ____________________________________________

 

                               SAMUI SONG (Directed by Pen-Ek Ratanaruang) ***



Beautiful Viyada is a bored Thai soap opera star married to a Belgian Buddhist sculptor who insists she come to the prayer meeting. A rape happens in their home, and one suspects it was with the consent of her own husband. It is she who is raped by the Buddhist leader, so she hires a man to kill her husband. She changes her life to escape the hell of it all, retreating into a village, but the assassin hunts her down and blames her for his mother’s death; he never got paid, as she escaped. It was very convoluted at the end, as she ends up happily married to the man who raped




Sunday, September 24, 2017

ADVENTURES WITH GRAPENUT



PHOTOGRAPHER’S GORGEOUS PICTURE BOOK LOVINGLY CAPTURES THE LIFE OF A SPECIAL LOON FAMILY AND HIS RELATIONSHIP WITH THEM

                                                                             all photos taken by John Rockwood  



John M. Rockwood has spent years and years kayaking and photographing loons living on New Hampshire’s lakes. 




In this particular book, he recounts how he made the “acquaintance” with a four-day-old lone chick he spots swimming near the Grape Islands on Lake Massabesic. He thinks it might be a chick that belongs to a loon pair, he has named the Grapetons. They were banded for ID by the Loon Preservation Committee. John had been photographing this devoted pair of loons for the past six years.






The Plot Unfolds

Amazingly, this little chick seems to ‘adopt” John as his new buddy.  He hovers around John’s kayak, making small hooting sounds. Could he be after a piece of the snack John is eating? Desperate to feed the chick, John makes his way to shore to catch minnows for the little chick he named Grapenut. 


 




Soon the Grapetons are running across the water to warn the little chick of danger; in fact an osprey was in their midst.  John soon becomes the baby sitter for the newborn until his parents return within the next hour.



A Mutual Attachment

In this incredible true story John keeps his lens on Grapenut and his parents as they teach him the ways of the water. 





Grapenut and John become joined at the hip, except when the little fellow would play Hide and Seek with him. Indeed, Grapenut proves to have a mischievous but fetching personality. Seven visits later, Grapenut is on his 46th day of life. John discovers Grapenut’s stubborn idiosyncrasies that do not always  work in his favour. One specific day, he witnesses Grapenut in a very dangerous eating situation. In fact, John finds out the little guy has a stubborn streak that nearly costs him his life.




Using simple text, and stunning photos, the story vividly chronicles something so rare and amazing. John warmly captures the near day-to-day growth of Grapenut. He witnesses the Grapenut’s klutziness and set backs in events that lead to his adulthood. Most importantly, John and Grapenut are friends for life.

The book is educational as John explains many aspects in a loon’s life. The story is inspiring. It is an incredible testimony to John’s love and knowledge of loons. A portion of he proceeds from the sale of this book will be donated to the Loon Preservation Committee in Moutlonborough, New Hampshire (www.loon.org), and the Audubon Society of New Hamsphire (www.nhaudubon.ord).



 You can order Adventures with Grapenut at:  www.loonphotog.net