Sunday, January 24, 2010


I'm not into ballet but lean toward contemporary and out-of-the-box work.  I was blown away by Steven Petronio's company of 10 athletic dancers.  Just 2 pieces were shown as a preview to his 25th season at the Joyce in April.  Stunning punches, jabs, fantastic parings of lyrical and angular combinations were presented that I've simply never seen before.   

All wore boldly black and white stripped tops, tights or shorts that created, during some of the spinning and tumbling movement, optical blurs and were almost hallucinogenic.  

The music consisted of excerpts from Radio Head and others - amplified plucked bass, violins, sax and myriad percussion that absolutely got under my skin.



I must confess that this is one of the most exquisite films I've seen in ages.  Jane Campion directs a story set in 1818 about an aching romance between poet John Keats and his beautiful neighbor that echo contemporary relationships in remarkable ways.  Every element of the film is, to me, simply flawless.  And I can rarely say that. 

The casting, the transparency and non-verbal aspects of these two people, the setting and seasons in the English countryside, the extraordinary handmade wardrobe for each character that the lighting captures breathlessly -- all these elements will transport you in ways few films can manage.  The poetry alone will linger with you for days.


-->    I really try hard to approach a film with an open mind and ignore industry gossip or buzz.  I offer this preamble because I know that a Quentin Tarantino film will feature grisly violence that often seems more sensational than dramatically necessary.  So I worked hard to go into neutral because the director’s work is often quite interesting.  Usually. 
     World War II and evil Nazis hooked me right away.  A renegade band of men who sought out the perpetrators of ‘crimes against humanity’, killed and then scalped them, sounded ripe for the Tarantino spin.  And spin he did.  Not only did he set out to rewrite world history he sexes it up with arch melodrama and corn ball dialogue that wouldn’t pass in an intro screen writing class.  He even has Brad Pitt, usually terrific, set his jaw a-la-brando in the ‘Godfather’ and speaks in the most hopeless hillbilly accent that contributed to the unraveling of the sudsy ending.  Hey, I really hope to surrender to this film but Tarantino’s self-conscious manipulation of the story kept pulling me out the movie. 
    The one saving grace was the performance of Christoph Waltz.  He savored his Jew-hunting mission with a salivating gusto that brought new meaning to the word psychopath.  He stole the film but not my heart.